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Ramesh Subedi: Navigating life through sound

Ramesh Subedi: Navigating life through sound

Ramesh Subedi, musician, music composer, and a teacher, has an indomitable spirit. Born visually impaired in 1979 in Kerabari Rural Municipality, Morang, his passion for music started during his formative years at Gyan Chachu School, a school catering to visually impaired students, where the air was always filled with melodies.

“From my earliest days at Gyan Chachu School, I found support and inspiration among fellow visually impaired students,” he says. “It was here that my interest in music began, nurtured by the supportive environment and the creative energy within the school walls.”

When Subedi was in grade five he composed his first song. The lyrics–Totey boli bolera, nana papa lyayi magne, kati ramro bani timro gyani bhayi basne–were penned by his friend Prem Rai. This was perhaps what marked the start of a lifelong pursuit of musical expression.

“I was drawn to politics at first. I aspired to become the chief justice and advocate for the rights of the underprivileged. I believed involvement in politics would provide me with a platform to be heard,” says Subedi. “But I soon discovered my true passion in music.”  

He recognized music had the potential not only for personal fulfillment but also for social impact. This realization led him to pursue formal music education at Lalit Kala Campus, specializing in vocal performance, and immersing himself in the study of various musical instruments.

Learning the guitar proved to be particularly challenging. He met several teachers who struggled to effectively communicate their knowledge with him. However, Subedi refused to give up. “After numerous attempts, I eventually found a teacher, Subash Mukhiya, whose professional teaching skills and patience proved to be invaluable,” he says. Under Mukhiya’s guidance, Subedi embarked on a four and a half year journey of learning the guitar. Mukhiya’s ability to adapt his teaching methods played a crucial role in Subedi’s learning journey and eventual success. 

“When you are truly passionate about something, don’t let it fade as a dream. Instead, keep working hard, and you will eventually find yourself where you are meant to be,” says Subedi.

Subedi’s journey of learning the keyboard was challenging. But he persisted in his efforts, attending music schools and seeking out instructors until he found one who was willing to take him on as a student. “That moment when the teacher said yes to teaching me was a turning point for me. The acceptance ignited a sense of confidence and determination that pushed me forward in my journey,” he says. 

As someone who was visually impaired , Subedi understands the difficulties of finding suitable teachers and resources for learning instruments. His struggles fueled his desire to pave a smoother way for future generations of visually impaired musicians. He became an advocate for actively working to raise awareness about the importance of accessibility and providing resources for visually impaired musicians.

Throughout his career, Subedi has balanced his roles as teacher at Laboratory Higher Secondary School in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, and also as a musician at Dohori Fewa Restaurant.

Joining the Laboratory Higher Secondary School was a pivotal moment in his career as an educator. In 2004, he started on a journey that would not only shape the lives of his students but also redefine the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of education. “Joining Laboratory School was the best decision for me because I have gained a lot of experiences. I have had the chance to enable my students to participate in various events to showcase their musical performances,” says Subedi.

Subedi’s tenure at Laboratory School is marked by his dedication to inclusivity. Teaching Braille to nearly 50 visually impaired students, he ensures equal access to education. His efforts to seamlessly integrate visually impaired students into the classroom alongside their sighted peers have created a truly inclusive atmosphere, where everyone feels valued and supported.

“As a music teacher, I bring my passion for music to every lesson, inspiring students to explore their creativity and express themselves,” he says. Subedi has further demonstrated his commitment to his students’ artistic growth by publishing a separate collection of their songs. This project showcases the talents of his students and provides them with a platform to share their musical creations with a wider audience.

Subedi’s songs have been sung by a variety of talented artists in the Nepali music industry. Some notable singers include Babu Bogati, Rajeshpal Rai, Swarup Acharya, Kamal Khatri, Purnakala BC, Krishna Bhakta Rai, and Reema Gurung among others. These singers have lent their unique voices and interpretations to Subedi’s songs, helping to bring his compositions to life and share them with audiences across Nepal and beyond.

Subedi’s contributions to the field of music and education have not gone unnoticed. He has received several awards including the Godhuli Sur-Sadhana Sewa Puraskar and the Kartikeya Children’s Literature Promotion Award, which highlight his significant impact on Nepali culture and society. 

His dedication to preserving Nepali music and culture is evident in his publication of a songbook containing a collection of 70 songs with lyrics and chords in 2005. This comprehensive resource serves as a valuable tool for aspiring musicians and educators, ensuring the continued legacy of Nepali music for future generations.

Subedi’s family plays an integral role in his life, providing love, support, and encouragement as he pursues his passion for music and education. “Despite the challenges I faced in my career, my family stands by me, they’re proud of my achievements and dedication” says Subedi. Subedi’s son looks up to his father with admiration. Seeing his father fills him with a sense of pride and wonder as he realizes the impact his father has had on the lives of others through his music and teaching.