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    Ashburn business finds niche teaching Indian music to growing population

    Veena Pandiri, founder of Notes n’ Beats, presents her students at the 2013 annual event at The Boyd School in Aldie. - Photo Courtesy/Veena Pandiri
    Veena Pandiri came to America almost 20 years ago from southern India to study computer engineering.

    Like much of the Indian diaspora in Northern Virginia she wanted to get an education at an American university and find a good job in a thriving field. She did.

    Pandiri is now a project management professional who hopes to turn her passion for music into a full-time business.

    Her new venture, Notes n' Beats, teaches kids ages 5 to 12 traditional Indian music and dance.

    It's Pandiri's way of connecting young Indian children in the area to their parents' music.

    Eight years ago Pandiri began teaching Indian music to children of friends and family at their homes.

    The goal was for children to learn two forms of music called Carnatic, which derives from the south of India and Hindustani, from the north.

    After Pandiri began teaching, she noticed that students would struggle to stay focused solely on more classical forms of music.

    She says that traditionally teaching classical music was too serious.

    "I have seen the children turned off by that way of teaching," said Pandiri.

    So a few years ago, she decided to change, sprinkling in more contemporary music to the curriculum.

    "All of our movies, 99 percent of them are musicals," said Pandiri, explaining how the Indian music culture affects popular contemporary Bollywood hit movies.

    After a while she decided to start having kids come to her house as part of a summer camp.

    Even when the program ended there still was a desire from parents to have Pandiri teach their children.

    She and her husband saw there could be a potential market for after school programs and continuity with her instruction. She thought this could be a true year-round business.

    Rajesh Kolluri, Pandiri's husband, has helped with the thought processing and strategy of her new business.

    Recently Pandiri proposed her plan at the Loudoun Small Business Plan Competition run by the Small Business Development Center, where she finished third.

    After giving her oral presentation one piece of advice she received was to stick to being a niche business and focus on Indian families in the area.

    The Indian population has grown tremendously in Loudoun over the last few years.

    In fact the percentage of the population that's Asian Indian has grown to four times what it was just 10 years ago.

    The number of foreign born Asian Indians in Loudoun County was almost 12,000, according to the 2010 Census, making it the largest of any country by almost 4,000 individuals.

    Movie theaters in Sterling are even showing Bollywood films alongside their regular Hollywood offerings.

    Pandiri points out that as the interest for classical music wanes in India, it's actually grown here among her friends in the states.

    In the future Pandiri hopes to transition from her full-time job as a project manager to her new position as the owner and instructor at Notes n' Beats.

    A step in the right direction could come soon as she is currently shopping around for office space, and hopes to move out of her house by sometime next year.

    For more information about Notes n' Beats visit notesnbeats.com.

    Students participate in an instrument-to-instrument class in Veena Pandiri’s basement, where she regularly conducts her classes.- Photo Courtesy/Veena Pandiri
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