At a young age of 19, budding multi-instrumentalist, Alston Gomes, plays 17 different instruments at a professional level that is a rare talent few can accomplish so early in life. Inspired by his father, Adrian Gomes, and following in his musical footsteps, Alston became inclined towards music, which soon became his passion. He began his journey in music at the age of 7, by starting to learn the keyboard from his father, who has always been an encouraging guide and a role model to him. “My father was my first tutor and he was the one who persuaded me to learn and develop my skills in playing instruments. His knowledge, expertise and experience, along with the support of my mother, was something I could always rely on.”
Over the years and with the support from his father, he learned the tabla, saxophone, trumpet, recorder, flute, melodica, accordion, clarinet, mandolin, harmonica, xylophone, trombone, and other percussion instruments by himself, and learnt the violin, guitar and drums from tutors.
With an interest in studying engineering, he completed his schooling in Carmel School Kuwait, and is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Technology (Instrumentation and Control Engineering) in Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), India. In learning Instrumentation and Control Engineering, he feels that digital programming has helped him apply certain concepts in the field of music.
He also juggles between his studies at college and being the music director of the Christ Church Youth Choir at the Manipal Church, which has been a great experience for him. “Arranging the music and teaching the musicians takes some time and effort but in the end, it is satisfying.” He added that balancing between music and the other aspects of his life has not been very challenging as playing the instrument is his hobby which has always kept him busy.
His school provided him with a multitude of opportunities to portray his talents; as a young boy he had been the lead player representing his school for interschool musical competitions and was always successful in them. “I directed the music and played as well for the musical titled ‘Matilda – the musical by Roald Dahl’ in school.”
Having two siblings who are also inclined towards music, an elder brother and a younger sister, his family has always been encouraging and supportive throughout his journey in music. He has performed alongside his father at the ‘Wilson Olivera Musical Nites’, in Bangalore, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and in 2012, 2013 and 2014, he played the rhythm guitar, saxophone, trumpet and tabla for musical shows organized by Konkani cultural organization (KCO) in Abu Dhabi with different Konkani artists and composers.
“I have played different guitars and various other wind instruments for musical shows and gigs in Kuwait, including in Konkani, Tulu, Kannada, Hindi, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil and English songs. I also performed for Malayalam playback singers visiting Kuwait, played lead and rhythm guitar as well as saxophone, flute, violin, mandolin for Konkani and Hindi instrumental albums released by my father, as well as other wind instruments for albums by other composers in Mangalore.”
Blessed to be in a motivating family environment has helped him achieve his goals in music. Though he enjoys playing all instruments, he tends to play more of wind instruments as there are fewer players of such instruments wherever he performs. “After I am done with my engineering I might take up music as my career or a secondary career, engineering being the first,” said Alston.
He advises children who have an interest in music to start with a basic instrument like the keyboard, guitar or drums. “Since I started with the keyboard it was easy for me to further learn the other instruments.” He believes mastering in any instrument or learning to play them well, makes one more attentive, focused and increases spontaneity. Most importantly, it relaxes one’s mind and is the best hobby one could have to improve mental health. Music has played a major role in Alston’s life and has helped him blossom into the talented person that he is today.
By Divya Sekar
Special to The Times, Kuwait