Fifteen-year-old Sara Kothari from Uttar Pradesh, who became the youngest Indian female to achieve Licentiate of Trinity College London (LTCL Piano) in 2021, has scored 499/500 marks in the recently announced CBSE class 10 board results.
Sara, a student of Step By Step School, Noida, cleared her grade 8 piano exam from Trinity College London with distinction in 2018 at the age of 12. She became an associate of Trinity College London (ATCL Piano) in June 2019 at the age of 13.
Taking her musical education forward, she became a Licentiate of Trinity College London (LTCL Piano) in 2021 at the age of 15. The LTCL examination is a level 6 diploma in music performance and is equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate (UG) degree.
“Physics and French are my favourite subjects. For me, piano playing is a way to de-stress. While everything shifted to online mode amid Covid, my studies and piano lessons were deeply impacted. But, reading new concepts in quantum physics, time travel and listening to maestros kept me going through the tough times,” Sara told indianexpress.com.
She is currently a fellow of Trinity College London which is a postgraduate degree institute. Sara recently got accepted into the Juilliard Summer Performing Arts Program and the Curtis Mentor Network Program 2021, which started in July.
Sara, a science enthusiast and winner of the Australian National Chemistry Quiz (ANCQ), wants to pursue engineering at an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the future. “I would also love to learn violin and pursue dual masters in music abroad. Along with being an engineer, I want to become a concert pianist,” she said.
Her father, Ashish Kothari, is an associate director in an IT company and her mother, Manisha Kothari, is a practising chartered accountant. When asked about the start of her musical journey, Sara said, “It all started with my mother’s keenness that I learn a musical instrument. I initially learnt to play the keyboard and was later introduced to the Trinity graded structure of learning. I secured admission at the Delhi School of Music at the age of 8 and was later mentored by the Neemrana Foundation.”
The piano is not a very common instrument in India where not everyone can afford the cost of personal classes and equipment. Sara too faced similar challenges, including a lack of qualified teachers, an appropriate learning environment, and future prospects.
“The major issue is finding good teachers who would teach great techniques, there is a major lack of guidance on how students should progress in the offbeat domains. Schools and parents must encourage children to follow their passions. When young children are genuinely happy and content, they tend to do well in all fields, be it extracurricular activities or academics,” said Sara, who finds joy in learning musically and technically challenging pieces.
She loves the works of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy and Frédéric Chopin’s ‘noble, poetic and dramatic’ music.