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Rahel Shekatkar: Out to prove that 'Music has scope'

Slaying all Stereotypes — youngest and the most qualified music teacher in India aims to prove that a career in music can be rewarding

Published: Dec 24, 2020 01:09:48 PM IST
Updated: Dec 30, 2020 03:01:49 PM IST

Rahel Shekatkar: Out to prove that 'Music has scope'
“At the dawn of one’s career”, “Starting their professional journey”, or “A fresher” is what one usually thinks about a 23-year-old. But every law must have an exception. Rahel Shekatkar is one such exception to these stereotypes in our society. Licentiate holder from Trinity and an international coach who can play more than seven instruments, Ms. Rahel’s list of accomplishments is ongoing.

She got introduced to music in a rather unique manner! At 5 years of age, she started learning Kathak under Mrs. Preeti Deo through which, she was introduced to Indian Classical music. Soon, she started to sing under Pt. Rajkumar Barshikar, a renowned classical singer of the Kirana Gharana and guru-bandhu of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

Surrounding herself with the best teachers from an early age, Rahel managed to wow them all with her natural passion and talent for music. Along with that, she feels blessed to have the most supportive parents [Mr Rajendra Shekatkar, Mrs Jayashree Shekatkar – working with Tata Motors Ltd., Pune] who recognized her calling, even before she did, and encouraged her to follow her wildest dreams!

‘You could never find me in my classroom because I was always a part of something or the other at school functions, which affected my grades’ recollects Rahel when asked about her schooling days. This caught her parent’s attention; they shifted her to home-schooling and hence, her active training in music began. Now titled the most Powerful Women in Music 2019 at 23, Rahel seems to have proven the generic education system wrong and Einstein’s theory of personalized education right! 

The story of how she got introduced to Western Classical music will make you believe in destiny! Through church, she came in touch with 3 musicians who were just like her: home-schooled and indulging in music 24X7! Upon inquiry, her father got Mrs. Veera Poonawala’s contact, who has been of great influence on her music career. Through her, Rahel was introduced to her first music teacher Lancylot D’souza who started training her in piano. Eventually, she also started learning the violin, guitar and drums with him! At 18, she was also learning different styles of guitar with Mr Uttam Vanarase, while her violin skills were being trained and tested by Suresh Gujar, a well-renowned violinist of this country.

By the age of 13, she inaugurated the Rahel O’ Veena music Academy and started with 5 students and is now training students globally! By the age of 17, she cleared Trinity grade 8 in all 4 instruments: the violin, the guitar, the piano and drums. Along with that, she also passed her Trinity grade 5 in Rock and Pop, and Trinity grade 3 in Western Vocals.

Rahel Shekatkar: Out to prove that 'Music has scope'
But as they say, ‘before light, there was darkness’. She also recalls tough times for facing the challenges of the society for choosing a different path.  “I’ve had my share of sadness, just like everyone else. And I think that gave me the strength to go farther than most”, she said with zero regrets.

After a short break of 2 months post exams, she began training with her two new teachers Mrs. Tanaz Irani (M.Mus, LRSM) for the piano and Mrs. Wendy D’costa (LTCL (piano), LTCL (voice)) for vocals. With these teachers, she completed her diploma in Voice and passed the advance certificate, her ATCL, as well as her LTCL; with distinction. And all these within 3 years!

“The technical demands of opera are indeed very challenging and most youngsters don't have what it takes to stay the course. But Rahel, who is extremely hard-working and committed was able to learn the nuances of this style of music and rise to the challenge” says Mrs. Wendy D’costa.  Standing true to her teacher’s words, today, Ms. Rahel Shekatkar is the youngest opera singer to pass her LTCL certificate at the age of 23. She currently is preparing for her FTCL in voice and hopes to complete, a rare achievement for someone so young

All of Rahel’s achievements have been marvellous, and so, why should her list of accolades and awards fall short? She won the National Leadership Award, along with the Rashtriya Pratibha Award, at 22 years of age. She is also the youngest teacher in Pune, who celebrated 10 years of the Raheloveena Academy in 2020. To make her list of accomplishments unbeatable for her age, she has more than 20 international certificates in music. Honoured with the title of ‘Youth Inspirator’ by Sakaal, Rahel is best-known as the ‘Girl with the Golden voice’, accolated by the Unity of Freedom Foundation. Her list of accomplishments is truly inspiring for many musicians; and we can’t wait to see what gets added to the list next!

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown and self-quarantine, Rahel has again revitalized her passion for Kathak and has started training with Mrs. Amartyya Chatterjee Ghosh well known Kathak dancer from Lucknow Gharana  and loves to take guidance and support from her assistant Anjali Kharade. “Life does come full circle in funny ways! I am now about to appear for one of the biggest titles in music and that’s the same time Kathak re-enters my life.” she pondered.

When first asked about her future plans, she said, “I just want to clear my FTCL at the moment”, followed by a good laugh. After FTCL, she aims to begin work towards opening a Music School for aspirants just like her, and create more career opportunities for musicians. Her primary goal is to eradicate the ‘Music has no scope’ mentality from the Indian public. She firmly believes that every child is special and capable of great things. Just like her, if other children got the right tools to hone their natural calling, our country would see many young stars like her shine bright. And for them, she wants to be the helping hand that her parents and teachers have been to her.

Even after all these achievements, Rahel’s humility continues to be well-appreciated among her peers and students. Her younger sister Loveena Shekatkar follows her footsteps and is currently preparing for grade 8 piano. She is proud of her support system, who have been managing her online presence for her.  Sakshi Mudey- Advertisement Department, Akshay Nair- Website Manager, Gaurav Nagaar – Head Manager, and Akshata Shah- Editing Head at the Rahel O’ Veena Academy have also been influenced by Rahel’s music and are all studying music under her. Practicing what she preaches, she has created a team of musicians who are also experts in their own fields. Continuing to do the same, she definitely plans to take the music industry by a storm!

More info on the academy is available at https://www.rahelmusicacademy.com/ and you can also follow Rahel's Instagram Profile: https://www.instagram.com/raheloveenamusicacademy/

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