Meet Abigail Odyuo, the girl with an expressive voice who has created a niche for herself in the music industry, she’s launched a music school “Shofar Music Academy” with a vision is to enrich lifelong appreciation of music. In today’s ‘Rhythm of Love’ Abigail talks us through her musical journey.
Eastern Mirror: Tell us something about your musical background. When did you realise you wanted to do music?
Abigail Odyuo: I started my musical journey ever since I remember, really! I started my piano lessons when I was about 6 or 7 years of age. I’m very grateful to God for giving me parents who not only love music but emphasised the importance of music education. My siblings and I were asked to learn at least one instrument which was a total booster that allowed me to keep on pressing in learning music. Apart from learning piano, I’ve also took Voice (Western Classical Singing) and Music Theory lessons eventually. I’m very grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to formally learn music whilst I was still very young. That’s the reason I got opportunity to teach what I know when I was just 13. At 13, I started teaching piano to my cousins and by 17 I started teaching to a bigger number of students as a freelancer.
My realization to be a musician/Music Pedagogue/Music entrepreneur wasn’t dramatic as music has been part of me ever since I was very young. Even as a little girl, my aim in life was never to become a doctor or engineer but has always been a musician.
After finishing my Master’s in Music Industries from Birmingham City University, I’m much focused to help our music community in every possible way.
Eastern Mirror: You are one of the most talented female musicians in the state. Why did you choose to be behind the camera and not in the front with your music like many passionate people do?
Abigail Odyuo: Thank you very much for considering me as one of the most talented musicians from our state! That’s surely a huge complement! To be honest, I don’t really choose to be behind the camera for any certain reason. That could be because I am very shy! As much as I love performing, I have always been fascinated by the Music Industry/Music Business and Music education. To teach and guide someone provides an opportunity to polish my skill and become a better musician that gives contentment and peace of mind.
Eastern Mirror: How did the idea of Shofar Music Academy occur to you? What were your objectives behind Shofar Music Academy?
Abigail Odyuo: Shofar Music Academy has been at the back of my mind for a very long time. I wanted to start a school even more when I was doing my masters degree. My entrepreneurship assignment was also to start a music school from which I named “Shofar Music Academy”.
Long story short, after a lot of contemplation and reasoning, the school kick started on the 28th September, 2018. (It’s just a month old). The main objective of the academy is to provide quality music education through innovative and creative ways of learning. Our vision is to enrich lifelong appreciation of music through professional, passionate, fun loving, innovative and multicultural environment of learning and teaching. Shofar Music Academy aims to enable music lovers to make music life giving profession in regards to economic sustainability.
We hope and pray that Shofar Music Academy will be able to unlock the ability of every student to create and recreate music through human intelligence.
Eastern Mirror: In what ways could the music education system be changed to better impact the misconception of music profession that Nagas have?
Abigail Odyuo: Well, we Nagas are doing an amazing job in the field of Music! When I first started learning music, there were no music schools in the entire state! We had to go to the homes of our teacher. But now we have got numbers of Music School here in Dimapur and Kohima and at least one music school in every district of Nagaland! Certainly, there is room for improvement in everything we do! If I have to pick an area we can work on, it would definitely be professionalism. From Music pedagogue to student to music entrepreneurs, studio artist to performers, we must be very careful to stop being complacent and work towards perfection. Professionalism would definitely be an area we are failing completely.
Eastern Mirror: Having seen the international community of musicians, how it works, what are ideas and suggestions to improve the music scenario here, given the fact that there is no proper label here.
Abigail Odyuo: People in the west are several decades ahead of us. Phonograph (Device used for recording) was invented in 1877 and ever since, sounds have been recorded. Whereas, in Nagaland, the first album recorded was in 1985 by Gospel Sound studio.
Having said that, we sure have to catch up in many aspects. Some areas we can learn from the international community particularly from the west, work hard. Never ever stop practicing! Always, always be innovative. Everyone loves new things. Old is boring. Nagaland government declared ‘Music as an Industry’ in the year 2012. And we are doing amazing in the field of music as I stated earlier. But, sadly it is the music education alone that is growing rapidly. As you have stated in your question, there is no record label here! This thought pains my heart! As I have finished my master in ‘Music Industries’, I really wish and pray that we see more musicians who’d consider studying subjects such as ‘Music Business’, ‘Music Technology’, ‘Music Therapy’ etc. But, on a brighter note, we are coping up very well. I’m certainly very hopeful that we’ll see serious musicians sooner rather than later.
Eastern Mirror: What ranks highest among the favourite achievements that you have accomplished so far?
Abigail Odyuo: I’m grateful to God for every blessing he has showered up me from early childhood until now. From being able to teach at just 13 to winner of “colour to my piano”, a piano competition by Yamaha piano to graduating my Master’s in first class, I’m ever grateful to God and gives all glory and honour to Him. I am ever grateful for the opening of Shofar Music Academy which means a lot to me personally because my vision for this school is much bigger than to teach students to play music but grow up to take up music professionally for which the school will take equal responsibility in finding the best suited universities for every student who aims to study music professionally.
Eastern Mirror: What are the challenges and rewards that come from working as a music tutor?
Abigail Odyuo: I believe no job is rewarding unless we overcome battles and battles of hardships.
At the end of every fight is when we look back from where we have come and find peace within ourselves.
Music tutors deal with each student at a personal level thus making it even more complicated unlike classroom teaching where we speak out everything or almost all that we prepared. Tutoring takes more than just teaching. We play a role of a counsellor or a mother at many times. Every student is different and as a tutor, we must have the ability and be willing to change our approach according to the student. Which sums up to – having different styles of teaching which is tailored made for every student which surely isn’t an easy job. To be able to acquire these skills takes a lot of patience, endurance, time, love and creativity.
Eastern Mirror: Are there any artists that you draw inspiration from — if so who and why?
Abigail Odyuo: I try to always learn something from every individual I meet. It wasn’t easy at the beginning but once I learned the art of appreciating every individual I meet, life has been more meaningful. Thus, I draw inspiration from every human I encounter including artists for sure! I try not to have any favourite humans in general (Artists/Teachers/Colleagues /Students /or anyone) so, unfortunately I can’t name any one but I sure do!
I don’t want to tag any Artists as my fav or the only artists who inspire me but most of the Artists who inspire me are mostly the ones who have broken rules by thinking out of the box and working smart and are never lazy! Creative artists are definitely the ones who inspire me the most.
Eastern Mirror: What has changed the most for you after making a mark in the music industry?
Abigail Odyuo: Music is part of my life. I can’t think of even a single day without being involved musically. Whether it’s practising, teaching, meeting music friends for music related works or researching music subjects, it’s always music in every corner.
Music has made me stand on my own feet and I’m very grateful to God for the gift of music.
In my early childhood, music education helped me intellectually because it’s scientifically proven that music education has great impact on a child’s learning.
As an adult, being a music pedagogue and music entrepreneur has helped me think beyond or out of the box and become more confident. I’m very vocal and firm in my principles.
As a professional in the music industry or the first and only Naga person who finished Master’s in ‘Music Industries’, I’ve learned to always research on the new inventions in the music industry and never be complacent. To always learn and be willing to unlearn and relearn. To always, always be willing to change my approach.
Eastern Mirror: What do you think is the most important thing Naga artists should do to promote themselves better?
Abigail Odyuo: Music industry is an entertainment industry. And, an entertainment industry is never an easy place to work for if we are happy with our glorious – yesterday achievements. To be able to keep up in the music industry, we must always upgrade ourselves.
As a performer, we must know our ultimate goal for our performance.
If our goal is to Praise God through music, let God be praised through your music and be felt by the congregation.
If our goal is to entertain, do so by engaging the audience through your music.
Whether you are an amateur or a professional, never forget to set a goal for what you do. And always do it with all your heart.
If your goal is to become a star, don’t rely on your contacts alone. Start taking little steps to promote yourself. It could be as small as starting your own Facebook page where you upload your videos (Boost your post by paying bills that suits your budget if need be) or singing at a record label who will provide you publicist. Never give up! The sky is the limit.
And always be willing to change if it’s to better ourselves.