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Name That Tune: Bella and Kush Kalra

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Bella Kalra, Kush Kalra,

Siblings Bella (11) and Kush (7), pictured with their adorable dog Sweetie Pie, have both been playing piano since they were in kindergarten.

This week’s Name That Tune is brought to you by Bella and Kush Kalra, rising sixth and second graders respectively. Like all siblings, sometimes they bicker. But they don’t argue over silly things like which Netflix show to watch or who gets the first helping of dessert. As dedicated pianists, they bicker over whose turn it is to play the piano. But quarantine has given them more free time to commit to the practice of making music, and they are pleased to be spending their leisure time playing for each other. Read on for excerpts from our interview. Watch their videos to see if you can name the tune. 

Name: Bella Kalra
Age: 11
Profession: Sixth grader at Lanier Middle School
Instrument: Piano and Voice
Watch Bella's video here

Name: Kush Kalra
Age: 7
Profession: Second grader at Condit Elementary School  
Instrument: Piano
Watch Kush's video here

How did you get into playing the piano?
Bella: I started playing the piano when I was about 5 years old. Around that time, the movie Frozen had just come out. I would watch it every day! My favorite song was “Let It Go,” of course. I said to myself “I want to sing like Elsa!” That’s when my parents put me in piano and voice lessons. I have been playing and singing ever since. And last year, I started playing guitar.
Kush: I got interested in playing the piano because my sister started playing. My sister is a really big role model for me, so I like to follow in her steps. When she started to play piano, it looked cool. So, I started playing at the age of 5 in kindergarten, just like her. Turns out I really like playing piano too!

What type of music do you enjoy playing the most?
I love pop music. It’s definitely my favorite type of music to play and listen to. My idol is Taylor Swift. My dream is basically to become Taylor Swift. 
Kush: I love listening to pop music too! But when it comes to playing piano, I love songs from movies. I especially love songs that are energetic and fun! Right now, I am working on the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King.

When is your next recital and how have you been preparing for it?
Our next recital is in about 8 weeks. This time, the recital is movie themed. It is going to be virtual this year, I think. For our upcoming recital, I am doing “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. I will practice every day! I practice that song about 15 to 30 minutes a day. 
Kush: Whatever my teacher assigns me, I practice once a day. It’s probably going to be virtual this year. But we will take a video of ourselves, send it to our teacher, and she will put them together into a recital video!

Do you have any goals as a musician?
I don’t know if it’s possible, but I seriously want to try to be the next Taylor Swift. My favorite thing to do is to sing while I play an instrument. 
Kush: I don’t think I will be a musician for a living. But I want to be really good at piano. In my free time when I’m older, I would love to continue to play and practice.

Has quarantine affected your time spent playing piano?
Since I have had so much free time, I play more! We go to my grandparents’ house a lot. They also have a piano, so we play for them. I’m also into writing my own music. I have been writing songs since I was 7 years old. I have lyrics that still need music. So, I’ve been sitting around and playing around trying to see what music might sound good with those lyrics.
Kush: I definitely play more and practice way more! In my free time, I will sit at the piano and just play around. And now, I like to work ahead and be really prepared for my lessons.

What is your process like for writing songs?
I have a song book that my grandma gave me for my 7th birthday. I usually write the chorus first and then think of verses later. Lately, I’ve been sitting at the piano a lot more. I will create some cool patterns that will make an introduction. Then, I’ll take a melody and add in chords. I think the whole process is fascinating! I used to write a lot. My pace has slowed down a bit. I’ve probably written around 30 songs. My first several songs are not the best. But my later ones have gotten much better. I would really like to publish them one day.

What do you think about your sister writing songs?
I think it’s really cool. Sometimes, I just like to sit and listen to her play piano. 
Bella: When I write something, I go to Kush and say, “I wrote a new song!” Kush usually is the first person to listen to a new song.

Is it fun to have a sibling that shares your same interest?
Sometimes. Well, we’ve been together a lot because of COVID, so we might fight over the piano if we both want to practice at the same time. But typically, we get along great and it’s really fun that we have someone to share music with. 

Watch Bella's full video here.
Watch Kush's full video here.

Editor's note: Play a musical instrument and interested in participating in Name That Tune? Email [email protected]

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