Sangeet and the Missing Beat
Sangeet and the Missing Beat
There were noises everywhere –the teeter-totter was bouncing, the swings were squeaking, and all the kids were laughing and screaming. Then through it all, I heard the most incredible beat in my head!
Sangeet is a lively young girl who loves music and playing instruments. She hears music everywhere and anywhere; there is always a beat playing in her head. Her favourite instrument is the tabla which consists of a pair of small hand-tuned drums used most often in music from India, and Sangeet plans to become a tabla master! By showing Sangeet confidently playing and discussing her instrument and musical abilities, Kaur introduces young audiences to a new culture through the common feature of music.
Sangeet is eager to share with her father a new beat she’s had on her mind all day, and she begins playing it on the tabla. However, as Sangeet plays the beat, she realizes that it’s not quite right, that something is missing, and she doesn’t know what. Her dad is confident she will figure it out, and so she continues practicing.
Hours later, Sangeet still can’t find the missing beat she has been practicing and playing, even playing imaginary tabla on her thighs. At bedtime, her mom is confident that she will figure it out.
Sangeet dreams about the beat, but when she wakes up and tries to recreate it, it still isn’t right. She is persistent, throughout the day, she taps her pencil at school and plays tabla on her thighs at recess. She practices and practices, trying different beats and ideas. She will not and does not give up, but, even with all the practice, she just can’t get the right beat.
Sangeet’s Dadiji (grandmother) listens to the beat and suggests that, in addition to all her practicing, Sangeet should also listen more carefully as a large part of music is listening, Sangeet ponders this suggestion and listens. She hears her dad washing the dishes and her mom chopping vegetables while her Dadiji is tapping a spoon on the counter. She listens to all the overlapping sounds and closes her eyes to focus and realizes she can hear her missing beat.
She plays the beat on her tabla, and her family loves it! Sangeet realizes that music and sound is everywhere. Even as her Dadiji is walking away, Sangeet begins to hear another beat. Practice and dedication are necessary, but pausing to listen and focus are also important factor when playing an instrument and in many other aspects of life, such as playing a sport. In the face of a challenge, Sangeet tried to find a solution by continuing to practice her tabla as well as by asking for advice from her family.
Kiranjot Kaur’s illustrations for Sangeet and the Missing Beat are vivid, and her attention to details is impressive. Sangeet’s long, dark hair, which is always flowing around and behind her, expresses as much emotion as her face does. She and her family are also wearing kara’s on their wrists, a steel bangle, worn by many Sikh’s. These details are important. Even the little patterns on all of Sangeet’s clothes and the accuracy of the illustrated tabla all add layers of warmth to the story.
Nisha Prajapati is a librarian in Toronto, Ontario.