A 13-year-old child prodigy whose sublime talent is on display every time he plays the piano — creating magic! Chennai’s very own Lydian Nadhaswaram's musical talent has made him the ‘World’s Best’.
By Ashwin Dewan
Playing the piano is no child's play. And if your fingers can effortlessly move over the black and white keys, at an incredible speed like no other, while staying blindfolded, and simultaneously rendering beautiful soul-stirring pieces, then you've got some phenomenal talent! Meet Lydian Nadhaswaram, a 13-year-old child, who can do just that! And when a great musician such as AR Rahman stops to take notice, and says to the world that Lydian is one of India’s treasures, then the little maestro is definitely hitting the right notes.
Lydian's unbelievable talent was on full display at a reality show titled ‘The World’s Best’ where he impressed the judges and audience alike, to take home the prize of $1 million dollars and the prestigious title of the ‘World’s Best’. Thus began his journey to stardom. In awe and recognition of this budding little star, Mr Michael Novogratz, Vice President of Jazz Foundation in United States Of America, gifted a Grand Steinway piano to Lydian, all the way from New York. This was a momentous occasion in the lives of Lydian and his family.
In a sweet, candid chat with ParentCircle, Lydian, who is also a student of AR Rahman’s Chennai-based KM Music Conservatory (KMMC), along with his father, share details about his musical journey, his experience on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, his favourite musical piece, how the blindfolding act came about and much more. Read on!
Questions to Lydian:
What is it like being a piano maestro at such a young age? AR Rahman complimented saying you are a genius and one of India’s treasures. Your thoughts?
It is a wonderful feeling and one that gives me immense satisfaction. When I heard about Rahman sir’s compliment, I felt thrilled. He has always been kind and helpful towards me. Even before I joined KM Music Conservatory (KMMC), he had seen me, as a seven-year-old, playing drums at an audio launch. At KMMC I learnt Russian style of piano under Dr Surojeet Chatterjee.
Whenever we meet, Rahman sir greets me with a ‘hey buddy’. He came home to visit after I won the ‘World’s Best’ reality show to congratulate me. He even organised a felicitation at KMMC to celebrate my win. I was touched by his gesture.
It feels great to have achieved this merit. I believe my constant practise and my total involvement in music is the prime reason for all this.
How do you find time for all of this — your studies, time with friends and piano practise?
I have chosen a homeschooling education curriculum, so I get enough time to practise my music. I hardly watch television, which enables me to organise my time better to accommodate music, my favourite subjects and family time.
Rimsky-Korsakoff’s The Flight of The Bumble Bee, Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu are some pieces you have played. Is there a favourite piece of yours or some piece that you have not played but would love to try your hands on?
La Campenella is my favourite piece. Although, I know how to play it, I face some difficulty playing the piece. This is because my fingers are still little, and doesn’t reach the exact notes because of the intervals between the keys as per notation. So, I will have to wait until I grow older and my fingers reach their full length.
You have come a long way. Who has been your inspiration?
My constant inspiration has definitely been my father and sister. I consider them to be my first music masters. From the beginning I was exposed to music at home daily because of them. It was non-stop music that livened up my house.
How did the blindfolding act come about? Tell us more.
There is an interesting story behind this act. One day, while playing the piano at home, unexpectedly my sister covered my face with a bath towel. But instead of stopping, I continued and managed to complete the piece I was playing.
That was the moment my father and sister realised that I could play the piano blindfolded. Since then, everyone has encouraged me and, occasionally, I play the piano blindfolded. I was amazed by it too and enjoy playing like that for fun.
What was it like winning the World’s Best competition? Did you feel you would win?
Yes, I had a feeling I would. As my father always used to encourage me from the age of 2 saying I will become the world’s best. It was a surprising coincidence that the first international contest was entitled ‘World’s Best’ too. I used to practise music in numerous ways such as with many instruments, blindfolded, using speed, and two different songs in two hands. This built my confidence and I felt I could win the competition.
What was your experience like being on the Ellen DeGeneres show, TED and other international events?
It was a great experience. I wanted to be on the show for a long time but it was only after Ellen saw my performance on the World’s Best show that she sent me an invite.
Similarly, in the case of Ted, Juliet Blake, who is a senior producer of the show, invited us to give a special performance for Ted India. Being on such international shows made us all very happy.
Besides playing the piano, what are your other interests and hobbies?
My hobbies include spending time with family, cycling down the street, reading about different cars especially the special features of all luxury cars, studying about the moon, space and forest, and playing with my sister. Apart from this, I like composing music. Currently, I am learning to swim.
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Any dreams and aspirations you have for yourself?
I have a dream and that is to go to the moon and play music. Also, I want to compose music for animation movies, do independent albums provided I get time to do so, and continually working towards being a world class pianist. Further, I want to enjoy every moment of my life by sharing love and music with the world.
We also got the chance to speak to Lydian’s father. This is what he said:
From among the musical pieces that your son plays, which is your favourite one?
My favourite piece is the Fantaisie Impromptu. But honestly, I just about love whatever he plays be it western classical, jazz, film music, themes, etc. I love the way he hits the right notes with his little fingers and with so much passion. It is magic I witness every day.
Would Lydian be pursuing music as a full-time profession? What are his future plans?
Yes, I believe, Lydian is bound to be a professional musician and, in all probability, will pursue music as his full-time profession. I want to give him freedom and liberty to do whatever he wants and loves. To be frank, I have shown my children that music is a beautiful thing and I hope they continue their passion for it.
How do you deal with the fame and attention that your son gets? How is your son coping with the same?
I feel that hard work pays off and the fame and attention my son gets is a result of this. My son copes with fame in a humble manner. I have brought up both my children to be humble and lovable, which could be the reason they are able to deal well with all the attention and fame.
What is your one big wish for Lydian?
When Lydian achieves world-wide fame and success, I want his words and music to reach and touch the world. And through his music, it should speak that he wants world peace and no conflicts, no wars, no weapons, no difference in religion. I believe that love and music hold the power to make everything possible.
Lydian’s musical journey stands out as a shining example for children all over. It is not only a story about a talented piano player but of a young boy putting in hard work, effort and dedication to achieve his dreams. As parents, we can do our bit by spotting our children’s interest early, fostering and nurturing it, and help to convert that interest into success.
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