The ChristianMetro team caught up with Lydia and Johann Solomon, the couple behind Music Central, a music school in Bangalore, guided by faith. The couple talk to us in this interactive Q&A.
1. Please tell us briefly about yourself and what you do?
(Lydia) I was brought up in a pastoral home in Mumbai, and early on, I developed a love towards church music. Since TV was not allowed in my home, I used most of my free time to learn the guitar, piano, keyboards and drums. I also took vocal lessons and gave graded examinations in ABRSM and Trinity School of Music, London. On graduating from St. Xavier’s College, I went on to teach music at St. Anne’s School, Cathedral School and Christ Church, also giving lessons from my home in and around the neighbourhood of South Mumbai.
On moving to Bangalore after my marriage to Johann Solomon, I went on to teach music at the Radiant School of Learning and Sophia High School, simultaneously giving lessons from our home in Cox Town – Cooke Town.
2.Tell us about your music school and why you started it?
(Johann) It was only after about five years in our marriage that we discovered a common dream, a passion for a music school, where people of all ages would learn, develop and excel in musicianship skills. I remember one of the constants from my childhood, was a home filled with music. My parents had an enviable collection of vinyls and cassettes, which were played ever so often. My mother played the keyboards, the accordion and a bit of the guitar. It was for a very brief period, when my mother was at home, and not working, that she taught my younger sister and I some of the most delightful songs I had ever heard. I must have been around five years old, but it was probably here that my love for music started. She eventually sent us for piano lessons, which was abruptly discontinued because we couldn’t purchase a piano. I went on to teach my self the guitar while in school in St. Mary’s High School, Mount Abu. My mother also sent me for guitar lessons to some of the leading names in Mumbai.
On moving to Bangalore in 1994, I searched for options where I could advance my guitar skills. The options I came across were western classical, which was not really to my preference. On graduating, I started a local band with a friend and I joined a well-known choir called the ‘Unforgettables’ led by Sheila Mascarenhas. Through out these years, from 16 – 25, I desperately wanted to advance in my musicianship, possibly taking it up professionally. In addition to not finding any options, I often encountered voices that discouraged me from taking up music professionally, with reasoning that suggested that music does not pay well, music was for women, there was no scope in India and (music) was a good hobby to have but not to make it a profession. I think I surrendered to that kind of reasoning, only until a few years ago, when Lydia and I discovered our common dream.
At the time, I was working with SAIACS as their Director of Communication. I discussed with Dr. Ian Payne, the Principal then, who prayerfully released us to pursue God’s calling over our lives.
3. What’s your vision and how are you working towards fulfilling that through your music school?
Today, we see Music Central as a team of committed individuals who offer people of all ages, an incredible opportunity to learn, develop, and excel in their God-given abilities and skills in music, dance and theatre. Our teachers (currently about fifteen) help develop a growth mindset in the students. To expand this a bit further, this means that becoming good or great in an instrument is not the end-goal. But instead, to develop an attitude that constantly seeks to grow, in our musicianship as well as in character. We encourage our students to take up graded certifications offered by Trinity School of Music, ABRSM, London School of Music and Rock School of Music, which serve as good indicators but never to be the final destination.
4. How’s your Music school been a blessing to people?
We would like to think that people’s lives are impacted through this journey of learning and developing as musicians and as people. We are blessed when we hear from our parents about their children having won a talent competition in school, and when we see students excelling in their graded exams, and when we see working professionals commit to practicing and honing their skills despite their busy pact schedules. Dolfred D’Souza, an IT professional traveled from Electronic City, all the way to Cooke Town, every week to take a class in accordion. We were blessed to hear him play over a dozen songs he had learned at the end of six months.
5. People invest time and energy into developing their career, their bodies and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of their lives. How do you actively pursue spiritual growth in spite of your busy schedule?
We maintain as among our top priorities, our engagement with our local church. Lydia recently rejoined the worship team at Adonai Ministries, anchoring the sessions for the Sunday evening services. We keep ourselves accountable to our Godly mentors and counselors. A day in the week, is given for fasting and prayer. This helps us humble ourselves before God, and seek His voice, as we can get carried away, being driven to do all sorts of things in the name of the Lord. But what the Lord really seeks is willingness, obedience and a heart that is humble. We spend time with the Word, daily and often share with each other, what the Lord has spoken to us.
6. If you were to tell something about your faith in Christ, what would you say?
Lydia and I follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in every part of our lives. We believe that we would not have been able to start Music Central, if it weren’t for His leading, guidance and providence. Our values that we uphold at Music Central, are inspired and shaped by the Word of God.
7. Is there any testimony you would like to share?
Among our earliest stories of transformation, which encouraged us to pursue starting the school of music, comes from a story of a father and his 13-year old daughter. A father was looking out for music classes and learned about us from a poster we had displayed in a music store in Cox Town. He visited us with his daughter and shared about his situation. His wife had recently committed suicide and his daughter was recently diagnosed with a tumor in the brain. The father had quit his job in the US and was in Bangalore seeking medical intervention for his daughter. He cautioned us that his daughter was struggling with suicidal tendencies and depression. He would nervously sit in the next room, while Lydia took his daughter through her guitar classes.
We developed a close friendship with the father-daughter. We invited them to family get-togethers and they even attended church on a few occasions. Lydia and I often prayed for them. In the years that followed, we witnessed a dramatic transformation in the girl’s life. In addition to being healed from the brain tumor, she grew in confidence, her countenance had changed, from one of hopelessness and despair to that of happiness. We met with her and the father last year over a meal. She was now in University pursuing a Master’s course in Biotechnology.
Is there any other Ministry that you care about and are involved in?
(Johann): I am involved with a NGO that has undertaken to eradicate malnutrition in India through the empowerment and building up of communities, with nutrition rich foods.
If you wish to contact the school, you can find them online www.musiccentral.in