P R O J E C T A H I M S A

During tabla class this week at the Gandhi Ashram, we were blessed to have special guest and fabulous saxophone player, Javier Porras Montessino from Malaga, Spain. This is Javier’s first journey to India, and it has been inspiring to see how musical it has been for him. Kanchan and Vikas, the two tabla students in my beginning tabla class, are learning kaidas in Teentaal.

Fulbright Scholar and Project Ahimsa grantee speaks about his work and impact using Music Therapy in India. Eric worked closely with Mentaid using musical instruments donated by Project Ahimsa, for over 6 months. In that period of time, he documented tremendous improvement in communication and response by the adults and youth that served using music therapy techniques.

Far Way Builds a Musical Bridge to Cuba

Cuba is a place that is very close to us.  It is closer to Florida than Angelenos are to Santa Barbara.  During the first half of the 20th century, American and Cuban culture shared a very close relationship.  George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo, Ernest Hemingway, Walker Evans, and two members of the I Love Lucy company, Desi Arnaz and Marco Rizo, were a few of the many Cuban and American artists who used to travel back and forth and collaborate together.

Today, however, people call Cuba “the Closest Farthest Away.” After 50 years of political and economic warfare, Cuba has become one of the most distant islands on earth.

Utilizing cutting edge audio/video technology, children in Havana, Cuba were able to musically collaborate with chior children in the USA. On July 17 and 20, 2011 Coro Diminuto will perform Far Away live in Havana at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Teatro Mella to celebrate National Children’s Day.  The project’s long-term goal is to have the two choirs be able to visit each other in both countries and perform the work live without needing projections.

Project Ahimsa provided support by helping purchase high quality microphones used in the performances and recordings of the children. We are thrilled for Sage Lewis, director of the Project, in leading the evolution of this remarkable project. Read more at

http://www.lastagetimes.com/2011/06/far-away-builds-a-bridge-to-cuba-at-maldef/

The groundbreaking Indian Summer festival in Leicester UK featured a live Skype linkage between 16 slum children in Ahmedabad, India and an audience in Leicester’s Phoenix Center. The EKATVA project, featuring 16 slum children on a journey of art, unity and dance, all performed at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad on July 18, 2011. The performance was projected behind a Kathak dancer at the festival. Project Ahimsa is supporting the EKATVA project and hopes to host the children when they tour the USA in 2012.

Tabla Workshop at the Loving Community for Lepers- Ahmedabad, India

A special visit by Project Ahimsa to the Loving Community, a leper colony, on June 16, 2011 was full of excitement and music for the children who live there. Robin Sukhadia shared a tabla performance and gave the children an opportunity to touch the drums and interact using bols (the language of tabla). 25 children learned about how tabla were made, learned about the phrases of tabla, and counted in Jhaptaal, a cycle of ten beats. For the hour, children each took turns learning basic strokes on the drums, and asking great questions.

The Loving Community is overcoming years of stigma through an innovative community center where artists come from around the world to interact with the residents. Children learn and share in the center too, and the entire community radiates peace and openness. Manav Sadhna, an NGO supported by Project Ahimsa over the past 8 years, began working with the Loving Community a few years ago. A digital music workshop led by Robin is now being planned for summer 2011.

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EKATVA Tour at Gandhi Ashram: Meet Nitesh

I just arrived at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram to support the EKATVA Project. This inspiring spirit is in my Tabla and Sound Design class at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram / Manav Sadhna. http://ekatva.blogspot.com/2011/04/meet-nitesh.html

A true highlight of my journey through South Asia: a Digital Media Literacy Workshop  Workshop at Shree Mangal Dvip School in Kathmandu, Nepal. Made possible by support by Fulbright South Asia and CalArts, Project Ahimsa enabled Fulbright Scholar Robin Sukhadia, Neelanjana Banerjee, and Tom Leeser to spend 7 days at Shree Mangal Dvip School (www.himalayanchildren.org) teaching HD video recording, sampling, and poetry. SMD school, founded by Thrangu Rinpoche, serves 600 children from the rural and remote parts of Nepal.

Robin Sukhadia, Project Ahimsa International Grants Program Director and Senior Fulbright Researcher, made a site visit to Karmagotchi, West Bengal in January of 2011. The village, 2 hours north of Kolkata, India is using music to preserve its traditions even as urban culture threatens its simple way of life. Project Ahimsa (www.projectahimsa.org) provided support to repair all the the traditional drums in this video, and provide a salary for 1 year to the music teacher who works with village elders to pass on traditions to village youth through music. Special thanks to Rosalie Giffoniello of Empower the Children, and Neelanjana Banerjee (photographer).

Music and Wellness Conference of Music Professionals Who Work with People in Need was held on March 15, 2011 at the American Center – Kolkata. The day long conference, sponsored by Project Ahimsa (www.projectahimsa.org) and the Fulbright Commission, featured workshops/talks led by

Tanmoy Bose (Tabla Maestro, Percussionist)
Eric Fraser (Fulbright Scholar, Music Therapist)
Robin Sukhadia (Fulbright Scholar, Project Ahimsa Program Director)
Dr. Sangeeta Pandit (Benares Hindu University)
Nimesh Patel (EKTAVA, Mahatma Gandhi Ashram)
Amita Dutta (Rabindra Bharathi University - Performing Arts Therapy Course)

The conference, organized by Fulbright Senior Research Scholars Robin Sukhadia of Project Ahimsa and American board certified music therapist Eric Fraser-MA-BC aims to create a unified group to promote the progress and profession of Music Therapy in India.

Project Ahimsa partnered with Fulbright South Asia and CalArts to launch its first project implementation in Kathmandu, Nepal. Neelanjana Banerjee, Tom Leeser and Robin Sukhadia spent 7 days at Shree Mangal Dvip School (www.himalayanchildren.org) in Kathmandu teaching Digital Storytelling. It has been an incredible week so far, featuring poetry classes, MPC1000 beat sessions, and flipcam/SLR/HD video workshops. The school serves 600 children from the rural and remote parts of Nepal.

Conference on Music & Wellness in India | March 11, 2011 | Kolkata

Music and Wellness in India

Conference of Music Professionals Who Work with People in Need

Sponsored in part by Project Ahimsa

March 15, 2011

2:30pm – 6:00pm  |  FREE

American Center – Kolkata

38 A Jawaralal Nehru Road, Kolkata 700071  (near Maidan Metro stop)

Featuring workshops/talks led by

Eric Fraser (Fulbright Scholar, Music Therapist)
Robin Sukhaida (Fulbright Scholar, Project Ahimsa Program Director)

Rosalie Giffoniello (Empower the Children)

Nimesh Patel (EKTAVA, Mahatma Gandhi Ashram)

For Entry Contact eric.fraser.bansuri@gmail.com

The application of music to heal is receiving more attention throughout India and the world as a result of the work of a wide range of Music Therapists. These innovative individuals are increasingly applying their training in classical and non-classical Indian (both Carnatic and Hindustani) and world music to empower children and adults suffering from a wide range of afflictions.

In an effort to create a unified group to promote the progress and profession of Music Therapy in India, Fulbright Senior Research Scholars Robin Sukhadia of Project Ahimsa (www.projectahimsa.org) and American board certified music therapist Eric Fraser-MA-BC, have joined together to organize this unique conference. The conference will feature presentations by some of India’s leading experts in music therapy and specialized music education wellness.  Each of these presenters are helping to define the direction of music and wellness in India, and will be sharing their groundbreaking work.  Administrators and professionals in the field of wellness/therapy and musicians of all backgrounds are strongly encouraged to attend. 

To attend or to inquire about presenting at the conference, please email eric.fraser.bansuri@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=143339535725773

Music really has an intense and immediate impact on children, especially those who are suffering. I get to see this each week that I am at the Rehabilitation Clinic for Children in Kolkata. This very special hospital for poor children from West Bengal and Bihar provides comprehensive surgery, prothetics and physical therapy for over 500 children each year, free of cost. Some of the children stay for over 2 years here as they undergo slow and painful corrective surgery. But what is most remarkable, is that every child walks out of the hospital after their stay on their own.


I have been coming here now for 3 weeks, and yesterday was my 5th session with the kids. The connection to them is amazing, each time I come to the hospital with my tabla, the kids get very excited. While there, i accompany them on tabla and also lead body rhythm workshops. The kids sit on the floor, many of them in casts, and we clap, we whisper, we shout, we laugh and we recite tabla bols. Sometimes, i treat them to a picture show using a projector. The instruments used by the children have been donated by Project Ahimsa. Krishnadidi, the music teacher/therapist who has been coming to RCFC each week for the past 6 years, is also provided a salary through a grant from Project Ahimsa.

Rehabilitation Clinic Music Classes - Kolkata

Music really has an intense and immediate impact on children, especially those who are suffering. I get to see this each week that I am at the Rehabilitation Clinic for Children in Kolkata. This very special hospital for poor children from West Bengal and Bihar provides comprehensive surgery, prothetics and physical therapy for over 500 children each year, free of cost. Some of the children stay for over 2 years here as they undergo slow and painful corrective surgery. But what is most remarkable, is that every child walks out of the hospital after their stay.

I have been coming here now for 3 weeks, and yesterday was my 5th session with the kids. The connection to them is amazing, each time I come to the hospital with my tabla, the kids get very excited. While there, i accompany them on tabla and also lead body rhythm workshops. The kids sit on the floor, many of them in casts, and we clap, we whisper, we shout, we laugh and we recite tabla bols. Sometimes, i treat them to a picture show using a projector.



It is amazing to see their eyes light up as we travel far away via their imagination from the suffering they are currently enduring. They forget their pain for a little while, and they can be silly beautiful children, playing in music. Some days, I bring special guests with me to open the ears of the children more. Eric Fraser, another Fulbright scholar and a certified Music Therapist, came to class to play bansuri for the children. They loved it! He then led an interactive group session with the children using clapping and singing.

Project Ahimsa made the donation of all the instruments here possible. Most important, the music teacher Krishnaji, who is a trained musician from Rabinder Bharati University, has been coming here for over 10 years. Her salary is supported by Project Ahimsa, and she comes twice each week to be with the children. Working alongside her is inspiring.

EKTAVA - All in One @ Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad

I arrived in India over 2 weeks ago, and each day since has been full of music, service, art and love. There has been of course the usual adjustment period healthwise, but the sustenance from art and community have carried me through. After arriving in Delhi for Fulbright Orientation, I made my onto to Kolkata to meet with ITC Sangeet Research Academy, the institution that is hosting me for the next 9 months in India. From Kolkata, I was off to Gujarat for 10 days, where I began project development in earnest at the Gandhi Ashram, where NGO Manav Sadhna is based. My research on music education here will be primarily focused on a project entitled EKTAVA, which literally means Oneness. This project, featuring 18 extremely talented children from some of the poorest sections of Ahmedabad, is a multi year dance/theater/music project that is being developed by Nimesh Patel and Darpana Academy. Children meet daily for 2 hours to practice dance and choreography at Darpana. A storyline is also being developed centered on Gandhian principles, which the children will develop themselves as the process unfolds.

I led a Conduction session with the children based on tabla bols. We first learned to clap basic rhythms in Dadra (cycles of 6), followed by each child having a chance to lead the group with their own creativity.

The children are incredibly inventive and creative, and in just the few days that I was part of rehearsals, I noticed tremendous progress in terms of listening and staying focused.

The skills they are developing together will organically result in a production. Nimesh has been fully focused on supporting this project, and his original project Let Them Sing served as the basis for Global Lingo.

We hope to collaborate more in the coming months, as Global Lingo 2 comes into form in tandem with this special project.
The donation from Compassionate Chefs Cafe helps provide daily nutritious meals, safe transportation, and practice space for the children.

My session with the children ended with tabla lessons, where they were able to incorporate the body rhythm exercises into actual playing.

Fulbright Senior Scholar Award India – Robin Sukhadia

Robin Sukhadia, International Grants Program Director for Project Ahimsa, has been awarded a 9 month Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship to India. His project, entitled “Music & Arts Integration: Empowering Youth in Kolkata and Ahmedabad” is designed to reflect on and build upon the past 7 years of work at Project Ahimsa. During that span of time, Project Ahimsa has supported over 35 different music education programs for underserved children worldwide, in countries including Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States, and India. In 2010, Project Ahimsa released Global Lingo, an album featuring the talents of children served by all of the organization’s programs. Through the Fulbright Award, Robin aims to spend extended time with 5 specific programs based in Kolkata and Ahmedabad including the following:

Blind School for Children (Gandhinagar, Gujarat)

Manav Sadhna / Mahatma Gandhi Ashram (Ahmedabad, Gujarat)

Mentaid (Kolkata, Bengal)

Disha Foundation (Kolkata, Bengal)

Prabartak Orphanage for the Mentally Handicapped (Kolkata, Bengal)

Rehabilitation Clinic for Children Orthopedic Hospital (Kolkata, Bengal)

Robin’s project is really simple. He aims to learn from the children at each of these programs, spending extended time with them, capturing their talents, learning about their lives, and seeing up close how music empowers them. He hopes to record elements of Global Lingo 2 during my grant period, and document extensively each music program. He’ll be updating this blog and and Project Ahimsa’s Facebook page/Twitter extensively, so you can track his progress. He plans to travel widely through south Asia, implementing new programs in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Daily, he will be practicing tabla and digesting the past 10 years of his own practice of the instrument.

Special Thanks: There are a number of key people that played major roles in making the Fulbright possible for Robin. He’d like to thank his incredible parents Saroj and Rajen Sukhadia,  his supremely supportive partner Neelanjana Banerjee, his beloved tabla Guru Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Rosalie Giffoniello of Empower the Children, and Mark Allen of the Machine Project.

How you can help: While the Fulbright does offer support for living expenses and travel, there are a number of key equipment pieces that Robin is seeking support for purchasing: updated music recording software for my mac book pro, microphones, HD video cameras, and a digital projector. If you are interested in supporting his journey, please contact him at robin@projectahimsa.org.