Student Spotlight #2: Kishan Patel

This past December, I had the wonderful opportunity to perform the 2nd movement of my Concerto for Vibraphone and Percussion Ensemble at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago with the Union High School Percussion Ensemble. This ensemble from Camas, WA put on a spectacular display with a challenging and varied program. In rehearsal, I met fellow percussionist Chris Whyte, who is a percussion specialist at the school, and learned that he had performed the solo part to the concerto at their concert back home in Washington (and probably played it better than me). I was also struck by the unparalleled talent of senior Kishan Patel as featured playing tabla on one of the final pieces on the concert, "Sketches of India" by director Lewis Norfleet. I followed up wth a brief interview so that you can get to know more about Kishan before he takes over the percussion world completely. (Scroll to the bottom to watch a YouTube video of Kishan playing tabla)

Kishan Patel


Born: May 24, 1993

High School: Union High School Class of 2011

Activities: Band, Percussion, Music Teacher, Indian Language Teacher

Instruments: Aside from standard western percussion, I also play the Tabla (north Indian classical percussion instrument) , I am a north Indian classical vocalist as well. I also play a variety of Indian percussion instruments such as dholak, dhol, mridangam, ghatam, Aside from percussion, I also play the Sitar, the Tanpura, and the Bansuri (Indian bamboo flute) 

Private Percussion Teachers: Lewis Norfleet, Christopher Whyte, Taylor Kragness, Nisha Joshi, Sachin Pimple

Awards & Honors: 3rd place Marimba Solo in the State of Washington, Maestro Award at the Heritage Band Festival in Vancouver, BC Canada, 1st place Marimba Solo Regional Solo ensemble Festival, Performance with the UHS Chamber Choir as  Guest Artist at The MENC Conference, Performance at the Midwest Clinic, Performance at the WMEA Conference

Aspirations for the Future: I would like to create my own school of music where I would teach Classical north Indian music and western classical percussion.

When did you get your start in music?
I started learning music when I was 7 years old from Dr. Nisha Joshi, who first taught me the art of North Indian Classical Vocal and Tabla (Indian Drums) playing. Later, my 5th grade year, I joined band, and since then, I have been a very active member of the band program at my Middle school and High school.

Of the instruments you play, which is your favorite?
My list has a very close tie between Tabla and Marimba for my favorite instrument, although I think Tabla is what I enjoy most. 

What is your favorite solo piece you have performed and why? Percussion ensemble piece? Concert band piece?
My favorite percussion ensemble piece that I have performed was "Sketches of India" written by Lewis Norfleet. Very close to that would be Lewis Nofleet’s arrangement of Astor Piazzola’s "Libertango." My favorite concert band pieces are any pieces written by Percy Aldrige Grainger, the top three being "Lincolnshire Posy," "Themes from Green Bushes," and "Childrens March." My favorite solo piece which I have performed is "Parody" by Jesse Monkmon because of how it has elements of all qualities I look for in a marimba solo.

How has music helped or influenced you in other areas of your life?
Music in my life has taught me dedication, commitment, and humbleness. Learning any sort of music requires lots of time and commitment, and music has helped me learn that. The suave nature of Indian music has taught me humbleness and relaxation.

Who are the most influential people in your life? Personally, musically, etc.?
The people who have influence me the most musically include my band director, Lewis Norfleet, and my Indian music teacher, Dr. Nisha Joshi. In my personal life, the person who has influenced me the most would be my Uncle.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? 20 years?
Ten to twenty years from now, I see myself continuing my passion teaching Indian music and keeping it alive throughout the generations to come, and also helping out with a drum line and privately teaching western percussion as well.

What are the 10 most frequently played/listened to artists on your iPod or in your iTunes library and why? Does this influence your performance in any way?
Being a north Indian musician, I listen to lots of vocalists and percussionists. Some of the main vocalists I listen to are Pandit Rajan Sajan Mishra, Pandit Uday Bhawalkar, Gundecha Brothers, Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar, Ustad Rashid Khan, Shrimati Kaushiki Chakrabarty, and Begum Parveen Sultana. Musicians in the Indian Percussion world that I listen to include Ustad Zakir Hussain. In the western world, my number one source of inspiration is She-e-Wu.

The vocalists that I listen to strongly impact how I sing, and the techniques I use when I do perform certain raagas. Anytime I know I will be performing a certain raga, I will go back and listen to those artists renditions of the raga, and see how I can apply it to my performance.

Because tabla is my main instrument, Ustad Zakir Hussain has always been a role model for me, and when I listen to him, I always listen to his clarity, and watch his expression. These two elements are also what have greatly helped me in western percussion.

She-e-Wu is the number one person I look up to when I perform marimba. The way she expresses herself through what she plays truly touches me. Her superb note accuracy and her technique has always been one that pushes me to be better at performing.  

Kishan plans to attend either the University of North Texas, University of Oregon or Central Washington University in the fall, majoring in Music Performance and Music Education.