Even as Covid shattered the dreams of many first-time entrepreneurs, Swapnali Gaikwad, who comes from humble beginnings, started giving music lessons in 2018 to fund her university education in Pune.
The 24-year-old Beed, Marathwada native reached out to students around the world through social media as the pandemic forced many to go online.
“I was surprised by the number of registrations, including students from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and France. Students from Pakistan and Japan who did not speak Hindi also showed interest in learning Indian classical music,” she said.
Daughter of parents, with a teacher father and without musical training, Gaikwad has so far taught Indian classical music to 546 students.
“Over 150 students take my online classes,” she said.
“I’m from Japan and I don’t speak Hindi. Swapnali’s teaching method has helped me learn Indian music even though I don’t understand the language,” said Hisael Williams.
Neha Ganjoo, a student who took music lessons at Swapnali during the Covid pandemic, said, “It was a great experience to learn classical music online. I was a bit skeptical about learning music virtually. But with Madame Swapnali, the teaching was similar to an offline course. The classes also helped me deal with Covid anxiety.
“We also help artists monetize their work online through my music label ‘After Dream Entertainment’. I hope my students will get international recognition for the work produced by my label,” she said.
Since the age of ten, Swapnali had aspired to be an Indian classical singer. Her music teacher, Pt Baburao Borgaonkar, encouraged and helped her foray into the world of Indian classical music. But her birth into a conservative, middle-class family, into a couple who happen to be Zilla Parishad teachers, reduced her dreams and aspirations to a mere hobby. She continued her studies and went into the field of engineering. It didn’t take long for her to realize she wasn’t cut out for this life. She switched to music during the second year of her studies and enrolled in a college of Loni Kalbhor in Pune.
She teaches Indian classical (Hindustani), semi-classical and devotional music.