MIDLAND PARK, N.J. — What began as a way to keep her young daughters connected to family roots has become a livelihood for Mumbai, India native and Midland Park business owner Sunita Kapur.
The traveling Bollywood performer began giving her children classical Indian music lessons when her family immigrated to the United States in 2001. The girls were 1 and 3 at the time.
Kapur’s neighbors soon sought lessons, too. Within a year, she had dozens of new clients — mostly of Indian descent — all relying on her to provide classical Indian music training.
“Music is an integral part of Indian culture,” said Kapur, who launched Musicsunita Academy of Music just one year after coming to the U.S. “Folk music bound everyone together and goes as far as thousands of years back to our roots. It’s a very easy way to connect.”
Kapur’s music school has expanded to Mahwah, Ridgewood, Englewood, Closter, East Brunswick, Secaucus and Manhattan.
Training includes traditional genres, including Swara Gyaan and Taal Ucchaar, as well as innovative classes such as music appreciation and building self-confidence.
Kapur has trained off-Broadway singers, college students and vocalists as young as 4 and as old as 78 — all fascinated by the music's history, Kapur said.
“It’s a universal language because all of the notes are the same, just with different names,” Kapur said of the 5,000-year-old art form.
Classical Indian music has 35,000 different melodies — or ragas — 200 of which are popularly sung, the teacher said.
Kapur also incorporates modern pop music into her lessons.
“If you are classically, vocally trained in Indian music then you can sing any form well,” she said.
“I tell my children that they are lucky because they’re American and Indian," she said. "They have the best of both worlds — I am proud for that.”
Musicsunita students will perform at the Hindu Samaj Mandir in Mahwah on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. The center is located at 247 West Ramapo Ave.
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