“Music has always been treated as an extracurricular activity in school and a piece of entertainment in society,” points out Anurag Hoon. But for him and his musician friends at NGO Manzil it has always been a medium for expressing their feelings, hopes, desire, joy and learning new things.
So they decided to take their love for melodies a step higher, and combined with an urge to do something for society, they started Manzil Mystics, an institute that uses music to educate the marginalized sections.
“We teach how to sing, write and compose a song. We design our activities in a way that we enable participants to facilitate their learning and learn life skills, social skills, spoken English, History, reproductive health, and menstrual hygiene. We conduct workshops in government schools, low income schools, private schools and NGOs across India,” says Delhi-based Anurag.
The group, after starting the initiative in 2011, has composed 11 songs, each suitable for a particular age group. Their curriculum varies as it is designed as per the need of the participants.
It is divided into four segments: vocal covers skills like empathy, confidence, discipline, respect, social awareness; writing covers critical thinking, punctuality, visioning, importance of planning, responsibility, social consciousness; rhythm covers team building, leadership, management; and composing inculcates thinking out of the box, critical thinking, brotherhood, makes one conscious about social problems.
“We have worked with over 50 schools and over 150 NGOs across India. We conduct workshops, which have two formats. – the short term workshops that vary from two to six days along with long-term ones which are hour-long weekly workshops with a group of maximum 30 participants. At the end, the participants compose their own music and if budget allows record the track,” shares Anurag.
He adds that at the end of their workshops, which are called Learning Through Music, the participants have composed songs on topics like washrooms, water, gender, girl education, education, friendship, brotherhood, being creative and many more.
“Through workshops in schools, we have been able to help increase about 90% students’ grades by five to 35%,” says Anurag.
“There has also been a marked improvement in the attendance level of the school, sanitation and its overall discipline,” he adds.
The group, which draws inspiration from the works of mystic poet and saint Kabir Das and admires the ethics and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, comprises eight vocalists, out of which six vocalists are trained in Indian classical, two are trained guitarists from Delhi School of Music and one is a trained drummer from Rock School (Delhi).
Music stage shows are their main source of income, which has been supporting four of their projects for last four years. In 2014, Manzil Mystics also composed music to the Preamble of Indian Constitution, which was lauded by the Election Commission of India in 2016.
To know more, you can visit their Facebook page here.