The mother-daughter duo of Kavita Kumar and Benzy have used music, the universal language of the soul, to break the barriers of Autism. From a non-verbal child who was lost in her world to a performer who has given many stage shows, released cds and winner of multiple awards, Benzy is a musical genius and her mom, Kavita has been instrumental in this phenomenal success story. Its an honour to interview them. Let’s get started then.
Q) How did you nurture Benzy’s musical talent? Would you like to share her amazing achievements with our readers?
As we all knows Music has always been an important influence in children’s lives. From their first Lori to songs in games, children are educated, entertained and moved to creativity through music.
In music therapy, Songs can be adapted to every child’s ability and provide a healthy and appropriate outlet for self expression and creativity. Different tones from different instruments will attract a child in different ways. The same melody on the guitar will be responded to differently when played on a flute, violin or voice.
Music has a powerful effect on our mood, behavior, brain waves, blood circulation, and stress hormones, and many benefits from its calming & stimulating effects.
Pediatric music therapy engages children with special needs, such as Autism, on their level. Each session is designed around the child’s individual goals. Sessions may include instrument play, singing, dancing, and turn taking opportunities, with a strong focus on sensory and cognitive development.
I will now share how I have Adopted music as Therapy’ on my daughter Benzy. She is 24 years old now & her forte is music. . Still she cannot converse, but she can express her feelings through music and with the help of Music Therapy has shown some extraordinary results. Benzy, My daughter had lot of problems by birth, when she was one years old, was not crawling; her body was totally stiff, no eye contact, not able to walk or stand. Her milestones were delayed. She had a babbling speech, which could be seldom understood. She did not respond to anything but toys with a sound. After seeing her reaction with the sound, we constantly played songs & rhymes. By the time she was four years old we had applied all the therapies given to us by experts. All these therapies did improve her to some extent but could not improve to a large extent, which was required. Time was passing by and the learning age, which is 7 to 12, was slipping. Suddenly it struck my mind that why not uses positive qualities which are still retained in Benzy. It was found that logic part was weak but her rhythmic part & memory part was intact i.e. if taught ABCD she won’t learn it, but if taught the same thing by adding some rhythm to it then she would learn fast. Music is basically based on memory.
Parents may be passing time compelling their children to do some movement & work (which may be suiting them or our society) without in-depth understanding of the child’s strengths & abilities in a particular field. It is pertinent to mention here that these types of children have one track mind and can grasp a particular activity faster and meticulously. Field must be of their interest.
We had kept a music tutor at the age of five. Benzy did not respond to him. He also complained about the same thing. But we did not give up, he was told to come, sing a particular raga and go. We found that after two years she started responding to all ragas and music. Classical ragas have magical powers in it. Sangeet Samrat tansen knew it that is why his ragas were so powerful that they use to pull the clouds when ‘Megh’ raga was sung. Western science also shows that even trees, plants respond to music, by growing faster.
Mother Nature gives answer to all our queries. It is the particular vibration that affects these minds in particular way slowly curing. Science behind chanting of any mantra is also the same. It seems that our ancestors had designed our ragas in such a way that it if practiced properly during the learning age can give astonishing/miraculous results.
Mantras have got great medicinal value for curing a disease. Slowly we found that while practicing classicals, ragas, Benzy’s voice had become clear and louder without any trace of babbling. Now we thought how to make use of her rhythmic memory. We thought of that she should cram up the musical notes instead of cramming the meaning of the poem as if cutting musical notes on a blank and wet mud. Result is that today she can sing all the ragas taught to her tirelessly. She learns a particular tune sharply by listening to it. She can immediately make out that if a particular song is based on some popular old song beats.
She began to use her hands consistently & can easily play the synthesizer with the 75 key boards which is played by big professionals. Practice with music track (karaoke), on computer. Recording of her voice songs — to create awareness to realize that where she is going wrong. Today she can make out even the slightest distortion in music. All this is because she has music notes cut in her mind and makes no mistake with music.
We were faced many obstacles before recording in the studio, at that time she was not having the concept of wearing headphone or to sing in chorus, or put her mouth in front of the mike without any head movement & that time She was also not able to hold mike properly. So we bought a headphone & mike at home for the practice.
These children are a rare gift from Almighty, and if trained properly these children show better result in a particular field than other children. These are trained children and can do extraordinarily in a particular field not in all fields. This is the reason why certain important scientists of the world were called unsocial, genius in one field but below average in other fields.
All Therapies have their own importance and effect and some of them has cured lighter physical disability but are far behind in curing brain related distortions. More over other therapies are very age specific and are not effective after a certain age. Whereas music therapy refines by age and has far reaching effect which researched further are bound to give results. For any physical disability we have aids but for brain distortion we have nothing. This is the reason that working with these children is an up hill task. The above is sighted to explain that every person has tremendous capacity or talent and one should not treat these special children as a waste.
Even in the present life Benzy is completely different personality without music.
Music is her food, language, her soul, her life, her passion & her source of strength & happiness.
In her case NO MUSIC, NO LIFE
Q) When did you start Dhoon? Please share a few details about initial days and your background as a music therapist.
I have started My Foundation in 2007 with association of young men and women who are in the field of Art, Music and culture and working with special children on some unique methodology. We in our country are attempting to play our proud role towards creating more awareness and sensitizing the people by doing a presentation of the nurtured talents. People can acclaim through their self motivating skills and bring forth the upcoming unheard talented artist from different parts of the country by recognizing the hidden and unrealized potential of the hidden talent.
Our Principles that every human being should be viewed from a humanitarian angle, having the right to live a life of dignity; we are adopting Dance & music therapy to nurture the hidden talent of person with differently-abled. We are also trying to establish them as an artist in the society so they can live their life with dignity.
Q) Dhoon has been instrumental in helping many young people. Would you like to share a few details with us?
Normally we are working for poor and underprivileged children. We adopt them & nurture them. Many children are beneficial from our foundation. Here I must share Hari’s story who was abuse child and his parents didn’t like him. But he was very good in singing. We trained him and asked a Pandit in temple to give him chance to sing Bhajan in your temple for temporary basis. But after some time he became a lead bhajan singer & helping in all work in daily routine. Then we asked to pandit to pay some money for his works. Panditji agreed & started given him monthly basis salary around 4 to 5 thousand. Now his salary is financial help for his family members & he got respect in his family.
Q) Your advice to other autism parents on how music can help their children…
If your children are showing any interest in sound, you can give them opportunity to learn music or play some instrument , I know it is very lengthy process but if we have patience & faith in our children, result will definitely come, no matter what is the situation never give up.
Benzy is a celebrity and a musical prodigy who has won three National awards!!! Congratulations on the amazing achievements at such an young age Benzy. You are a star!
Q) How old are you Benzy?
I am twenty four year old..
Q) What was your first album Benzy?
Basic Raagas in the age of nine .
Q) How many hours a day do you practice?
Every day at least four hours in the evening .
Q) When was your latest stage performance?
I have done Seven Performances in the month of Dec. including sai bhajan.
Q) Wow! Your favourite singers/songs?
My favorite singer is Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhonsle
Lata’s song – Ajeeb Daastan hai ye and many more
Asha’s song – Jab Chaaye Mera jaado and many more
Q) What are your hobbies Benzy?
Singing , Travelling ,eating
Q) What is your latest/upcoming album and the release date?
My nine audio cds has been released including internationally.
My upcoming album is Sonu Nigam Hits ( instrumental ) In 2018 Jan.
I hope you are as inspired by getting to know the mother-daughter duo as I am. Benzy, may you reach greater heights in your career and have a happy life. God Bless You dear!
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