Padmini Rao in her own words about her background
Early childhood memories are of being steeped in an atmosphere of music all the time. Although I do not come from a family of musicians (my father is a doctor and my mother a teacher), we were blessed to be closely associated with the Dagar family in Chembur-Mumbai, where I spent my growing years.
Weekends were invariably spent at the Dagar residence listening to informal, often impromptu music sessions. I did not realise it then, but the seeds for my chosen career path were probably sowed during those childhood years.
I received my vocal musical initiation at a relatively tender age under the guidance of Pandit Manohar Otavkar. Thereafter, over a period of seven years, I received training in the sitar from Smt. Pramila Dagar.
Discovering that my first love was for vocal music, I reverted to the vocal form, undergoing 11 years of rigorous training in voice culture under the guidance of Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Khan Dagar, the renowned scholar and Dhrupad and Rudra Veena maestro. This would prove to be the turning point in my life. It was the toughest, most challenging and yet the most enriching and exciting phase of my life.
Indian classical music has traditionally been taught in a dedicated environment called the guru-shishya parampara (“teacher-student lineage”) where the shishya or pupil stays at the guru’s residence and undergoes rigorous musical training under the tutelage of an accomplished guru or teacher over a large number of years. In the modern context, however, this has metamorphosed into an intensive and rigorous one-on one training with the Guru.
During this phase, as my interest and understanding flowered under the able guidance of Ustad Z.M. Dagar, I completed my Master’s Degree in Music from the SNDT University under the tutelage of Dr. Prabha Atre. This was to lay the foundation for a long, fruitful, and enriching association with Dr. Atre, which continues to this day.
This wonderful musical voyage has seen me through over three decades of hard training, polishing, and perfection at the hands of my Gurus, who have lovingly and painstakingly molded, guided, shaped and steered me along this path.