My love for music started at an early age with my mother. Although not a musician, I think of her as my first music teacher because she instilled in me a desire for music. From the all night sessions at temples where music was the foundation of worship to Bollywood concerts as well her own personal favorites she would play at home, I was exposed to the beauty and power of music. Though I often didn’t understand the context of the religious poetry and prayer, the music spoke to me. It led me to be curious about all music.
I started learning the violin in 5th grade and that was the beginning of a lifelong journey of discovering the beauty of music. I received a BA in Music from the University of Houston followed by an intensive period of formal study of the classical music of India in New Delhi sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. As a performer, I focus on presenting Indian Classical music in non-traditional settings to make the music accessible to a wider audience. I also hold an MA in Arts Management from George Mason University and am committed to continuing my education and development as a teacher/performer. Yearly, I attend various teacher trainings, conferences, workshops, and lectures to stay informed and current.
A huge part of my journey as a musician is being an educator. I love to share my passion and the joy music brings me with all, especially children because I truly believe music is a powerful way to express emotions and connect with anyone. For kids especially, music can teach so many wonderful things early on: discipline, creativity, self-expression, teamwork, commitment, confidence, and so much more. I have been an educator for over 15 years as a private instructor as well as leading group classes/workshops/seminars for kids and adults of all ages. I have also served as a coach for Strathmore’s East County Strings initiative which is a free, after-school program for string players in middle schools in the eastern part of Montgomery County. Teaching with patience, encouragement, and passion are my key elements and approach. I started teaching privately in the Washington DC area in 2007 and in 2016 I expanded Soulfege Music Studio bringing on board additional teachers to meet the growing number of students as well as to include lessons in other instruments.
Nistha has been called “stunningly skilled in western and eastern classical music” by the Washington City Paper. Her self-released debut album, “Exit 1” has been described as “edgy, innovative, and clearly awe-inspiring…Indian fusion at its best” (Inside World Music). Nistha is a versatile musician that melds tradition with contemporary innovation – lending her talents to the Jazz trio The Fourth Stream, collaborations with National Symphony Orchestra Musicians The Last Stand Quartet, Grammy nominated hip hop artist Christylez Bacon, and recording on rock band NRI’s album. Nistha has performed at the United Nations, National Gallery of Art, Mansion at Strathmore, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. Nistha is a recipient of multiple grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, including a 2012 Artist Fellowship and was most recently awarded a Project Grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. She also was an Artist in Residence at Strathmore for the 2013-2014 year. Learn more about her music or to find out when her next performance is, please visit www.nistharaj.com