At a time when every business is struggling to survive the impact of lockdown, the sales of musical instruments — both eastern and western — seem to have gone up in the city. Since many people are still confined to their homes, they are turning to their musical hobbies to kill time. When we visited Lalbazar, the biggest hub for musical instruments in Kolkata, with more than 30 shops, the area was buzzing with activity. Shubham Sardar, co-owner of Sarat Sardar and Sons, said that during lockdown people rediscovered ways to spend time and many among them have started learning new instruments. “There are two kinds of people wanting to learn music. While some are beginners, there are also a few who left midway due to some reason, but want to start again from where they had left. We are getting enquiries from people across ages asking for instruments.”
Akash Mondal from BCM Music Palace agreed that most people are now taking up guitar (70% western and 30% Hawaian), digital piano and ukulele as hobbies. “There are many visiting our store for guitars and pianos. However, ukulele is trending mostly among youngsters,” he informed.
We spotted Jayaanta Das, a young school teacher, buying a guitar from one of these shops. When quizzed, he said, “I know how to play a mouth organ. But recently, during the lockdown, I decided to learn guitar. I want to try playing ukulele too.”
Rise in demand of Indian classical instruments
Given the fact that Indian classical instruments are a bit difficult to handle, western instruments have been the usual choice for new learners so far. However, during the lockdown, these shops have seen a sudden rise in demand for Indian classical instruments, especially sitar. Shubham explained, “Youngsters, who are coming for Indian instruments, are into fusion music. Besides, the younger generation has seen performances by Veena Srivani and Rishabh Seen. Now, they know that Indian classical instruments can be played in several other ways.”
Purnendu Mondal from Super Music Shop said that most people visiting his store have taken up the hobby after a long gap. “They either come with their old instruments to get them exchanged or to repair. The age group is between 30 and 50 years,” he said.
No bulk orders from music schools, other states
However, business is not going smooth at NN Mondal & Sons. This century-old violin shop mostly survives on bulk orders from school and music institutions, which are shut as of now. Sudam Mondal, the third-generation owner, said, “Since classes are now being held online, we have not received any order. Besides, due to this pandemic outbreak, bulk orders from neighbouring states, like Jharkhand and Odisha, have also stopped. The demand for concert instruments has gone down too.”
More repair works
Musical instruments need regular maintenance and repair. Ever since the shops reopened in June, more and more musicians are going for repairs. While the repair of Indian makes is not very complicated, workers are facing problems with Chinese instruments like digital piano and keyboards, due to unavailability of spare parts.
Instruments priced between `5,000 and `15,000 are more in demand.
Demand for sitar, sarod and esraj are high among Indian instruments
No takers for drums or percussions as of now
Digital piano is fast overtaking keyboards in terms of sales
Source:Times of India