The internet is an integral part of 12-year-old Neil Nayyar’s life. He spends several hours online. But he uses every minute of it wisely. Nayyar is not your average 12-year-old. The Elk Grove, California resident is a music prodigy who can play 44 musical instruments. Nayyar, who had his first music lesson when he was five, takes regular online classes from top musicians from countries including India, China and Italy.
Nayyar’s parents, who hail from Punjab, moved to the US almost a decade back. Nayyar believes his tryst with music began when he was in his mother’s womb. “My parents played a lot of Mozart,” he says.
The seventh-grader has been recently recognized by an India based ASSIST World Records Research Foundation as the “Youngest to Play Maximum Number of Musical Instruments”. He’s received an invite to the Steve Harvey show and is in talks with the Guinness World Records too.
Neil, how have you been handling this new-found popularity?
Popularity makes me more busy and is giving me a lot of joy. Yes, few kids asked selfies with me too.
How do you manage time and what is the most difficult part of practice?
I go for online education for my schooling. It gives me some flexibility to adjust the time. I do not play games or watch TV. I use my time wisely. Once in a while, I do watch a Bollywood movie or an episode of Kapil Sharma show. I do like Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan movies. I enjoy practice every day as music is my passion.
Do you like Bollywood music?
Yes, I do like Bollywood. I listen to variety of old Hindi songs. I love to listen to Kishore Kumar and Mohd. Rafi.
Which is your favourite Indian instrument ?
If you ask me my favourite, I will say all of them. To each instrument, I give equal importance. For me, they are part of my musical journey. Each one of them has their equal importance in music.
Tell us about your instructors?
I just started with N Rajam, who is one of India’s top violinists. She is quite detailed and listens to each music note clearly. I am blessed to have wonderful teachers from US, India, China, Italy and Iran.
How do you find tutors?
For tutors and musical instruments, my parents make a big contribution. They find me best of the best.
Which instrument do you think is the most unique?
From my experience, Sitar and Chinese Guzheng are very unique. I lose myself in the sound these musical instruments make.
You have been contacted by Guinness World Records. What’s the latest update?
My parents contacted them three months back. Initially, they refused to entertain us. They said it wad difficult to measure the quality of so many musical instruments. They were recommending me to play one musical instrument for a given number of hours. Then we contacted Asset World Record and they accepted it. Now again, Guinness World Record is contacting us. Let us see how it goes.
What are your long-term future plans?
At this time, it is very hard for me to say what I will become. Most probably, I will have my own band.
If you ever get a chance to work in Bollywood, who would you like to work with?
Ha, I will surely work for a Salman Khan movie if I get an opportunity. I like his style of acting.