Music Students Study Abroad in India

Five William Paterson music students explored the Hindustani vocal technique known as dhrupad during a month-long study abroad trip to India this past August. The students were led by Payton MacDonald, a composer, percussionist, and associate professor of music, who spent the 2013-14 academic year studying the ancient vocal technique as a Fulbright Scholar.

The students—Christopher Mason, Alec Goldfarb, Megan Roy, Priscilla Cordero, and Brielle Liebman —studied with the renowned Gundecha brothers, who specialize in dhrupad, at their Gurukul, or school, in Bhopal, India. The first William Paterson music students to study abroad in India, they spent their days dedicated to practicing this ancient style of Hindustani classical music which has survived until today in its original form.

“It was a total immersion experiencefor the students, the real traditional way of learning classical Indian music,” says MacDonald, describing a schedule that began with group practice sessions at 5:30 a.m. followed by classes, individual practice, concerts, and more practicing. But the students also had an opportunity to explore the local culture, sample all kinds of Indian food, and visit temples and other architectural sites. Most of all, says MacDonald, “they were able to experience the open hearts and kind souls of the Indian people here at the Gurukul, and got to hang out with Indian students their own age. It was the best.”

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