A musical genius

Debarati Palit Singh
Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Yogita Tambe has been visually impaired since birth but her special talent to play around 65 musical instruments has won her awards and accolades.

Yogita Tambe has been visually impaired since birth but it has never stopped her from dreaming big. She can play around 65 musical instruments and has also entered the Limca Book of Records by playing 53 instruments in 49 minutes. The instruments she can play include tabla, dholki, nagara, dimdi, halagi, dholak, nashik dhol, tasha, damaru, sambal, tal, manjiri, khanjiri, zhanj, ghungru, khalbatta, karvanti, chiplya, naral, tatchampcha, handa, bagal baccha, lezim, pakhawaj, shiti and many others. 

Before she made it to the Limca Book of Records, Tambe said she used to feel nervous because she did not have many of the instruments with her. “After winning at different state levels, I was confident about playing different instruments but I wasn’t sure if the number would go up to 50. My friend helped me collect the instruments and he also did research on whether any such record had been created in the handicapped category,” she says. 

Passion for music 

Talking about her passion, Tambe, who works as a music teacher, says that initially she would start drumming on any surface, including the floor, tables, plates, wrought iron chairs, cupboards and so on. “I would be reprimanded because I would keep playing on the plate and the bowl during meal times. But that did not deter me,” she says. 

Her inclination for music and musical instruments caught her grandparents’ attention and her maternal grandfather saw her burning passion. “My maternal grandmother was hooked to the radio and while the music would play, I would catch the rhythm and start drumming. I finally got a music teacher but he would teach basic stuff so within a few days I told him, ‘Why don’t you play some Marathi or Hindi songs and I could play the instruments’. I also asked him to point out my  mistakes,” says Tambe. 

After listening to what she played, her music teacher realised that she needed proper training under a well-known musician.       

Tambe further honed her skills at Shrimati Kamala Mehta Blind School, Dadar, Mumbai. “Like every blind school, music was compulsory at my school. There, I got to play many instruments and after completing my studies, I would spent most of my time at the music room where I learnt to play different instruments,” says Tambe who has played at various college fests including the inter-university youth festival Indradhanush. 

Tambe, who has also undertaken training at Sharda Sangeet Vidyalaya, Bandra, and Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, says that she is formally trained in the tabla but when it comes to playing different instruments, she has learnt by observing others. “The common belief is that one who can play the tabla, can play any instrument — maybe that’s true in my case. By learning to play the tabla, I can play 50 other instruments,” she says.   

Never stop learning 

To master one instrument, it takes decades but Tambe has ended up playing so many of them. What has been her biggest motivation and she replies, “The willingness to learn. I not only play 65 instruments but I am also associated with theatre, calligraphy. That said, my intention is not to be an all-rounder or be different. I just believe that we should take up whatever opportunity comes our way and see whether we can live up to it and move ahead,” says Tambe who has composed the background score for several children’s plays and has also played instruments for an upcoming Hindi film. She adds that one should never stop learning.  

Overcoming challenges   

Many think that being physically challenged could be a hindrance to one’s dreams but Tambe says everyone has to face challenges. “Everyone has some kind of challenge but you cannot let that come in between your dreams. I teach young students and there are many who are not as intelligent as others but they have some kind of talent. You should do what you are comfortable with and put your mind and soul into getting your goal,” she says. 

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