“Music is my life”: Indian-American teen who plays 107 musical instruments

Cheryl Orson-

Sacramento-area resident Neil Nayyar is a one-man teen band aspiring to be one of the foremost inspiring instrumentalists in the world.

And as a World’s Record Holder for playing 107 instruments at the young age of 14, he is well on his way toward achieving this goal.

“Music is my life,” Nayyar told indica News during an interview and stated he would love to bring a lot to the table when it comes to music. “My love for music is inevitable and I aspire to achieve being the best of the best in the future.”

And in this case, “inevitable” may be precisely the word for it. As Nayyar explains it, prior to his birth his father brought home a library book which stated “if you give music to the womb the child will become a musician.”

“He tried the experiment,” says Nayyar explaining his father did exactly as the library book instructed.

Unfortunately, the book did not state how long results could be expected to appear. And at first, Nayyar showed little to no interest in the music that had so diligently been played into his mother’s womb.

Then when Neil was around age six or seven, fate stepped in and took a hand. A local community group offered free drum lessons and his parents decided to see if adding this additional instruction to the initial experiment would work.

“A miracle happened,” Nayyar states. “A few days later I was playing like a pro.”

More instruments were quickly added to the burgeoning prodigy’s repertoire. Guitar, piano, and flute among many, many others. There was nothing Nayyar could not instantly handle and produce a melody on.

By the age of 12 Nayyar became the youngest World’s Record Holder for playing the most instruments by a single musician: 44. He easily blew away the competition: a 23-year-old who played only 27 instruments.

From there Nayyar was off and running, determined to master even more and expanding this ambition to include instruments from all over the world. And, thus, now becoming the youngest World’s Record Holder with 107 instruments – and currently growing – to his name. And what fuels Nayyar’s passion and keeps his ambitious plans for the future?

“Well, music is universal,” Nayyar explains, “and a true musician should gain the knowledge as, and when, it flows in from wherever it flows in. So, I have been taking classes from masters of music from all across the world: Chinese, Arabic, African Jazz, pop, Western, Indian, and many more. So it’s a mixture of cultures within that I carry along within myself.

“This goal is all about passion,” Nayyar expounds, “gaining knowledge from different cultural backgrounds, having to know the roots of music from all across the world. So, yes, my target is not only to gain infinite knowledge in music but however much I can gain.”

Nayyar further credits having attended online public school since the first grade for giving him the flexibility to adjust his time for formal studies as it requires lots of discipline and organizing his priorities to be able to manage both school studies as well as expanding his musical knowledge and profile. It has also allowed him to attend international online classes taught by numerous recognized music gurus from all over the world including China, India and Italy.

So what’s next for this prodigious prodigy’s future? With over 4,000 known instruments, and many thousands more ancient ones to be rediscovered and new digital ones yet to be invented, it seems the globe is indeed his oyster.

“I am completing my first album which will include all 107 world musical instruments and also writing a children’s book on these same musical instruments expected to be released in March of 2021,” Nayyar explains though admitting the current pandemic has temporarily delayed some planned events it has inspired others.

“Due to the Covid 19 situation, many of my performances were canceled,” Nayyar explains stating he had been selected to perform for the River Cats minor league baseball game on Star Trek Night and was also scheduled to perform at Cal State during the County and State Fairs in months of March and June and hopes to see, the covid situation gets resolved in 2021 so performers like himself, and many others all over the world, can entertain and bring global joy and peace.

“My passion and hunger for music keep on motivating me to learn more,” Nayyar wisely states. “The hurdles usually faced are the language and cultural barriers but music cuts through them all. Music breaks all the barriers and makes a way to produce a beautiful tune that is loved by all.”

But there have also been highlights with before and following the pandemic. In 2019, Nayyar was invited to perform for the NBA Sacramento Kings game for which he played his own unique rendition of the National Anthem on a saxophone. He also previously performed with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters.

The acclaim continued in 2020, with Nayyar being honored with receiving the Mayor’s Medal from former Mayor of Elk Gove Steve Ly. And during the recent presidential campaign, Nayyar was invited to perform for former Vice-President and current President-Elect Joe Biden in the Bay area though due to the pandemic was actually presided over by former Second Lady and future First Lady  Dr. Jill Biden. Also on a sadder but equally touching note, Nayyar was invited to again perform the National Anthem in honor of the recently slain Sikh Texas officer.

More recently Nayyar was also invited to perform for the inauguration ceremony of newly elected Mayor of Elk Grove Bobbie Singh Allen, who is the first-ever directly elected East Asian Sikh mayor in the US. Nayyar was also joined there by Congressman Dr. Amy Bera and Assemblyman Jim Cooper.

On the small screen, Nayyar’s incredible musical adventure has been chronicled on numerous TV series and programs as well as multiple national news networks and he has also made appearances on America’s Got Talent and The Steve Harvey Show. Further expanding his own world renown, Nayyar was also praised for his talents on the international talent show Aao Tumhein Chand Pe Le Jaayein (Make You A Star) hosted by Bollywood backup singer Palak Muchhal. She, herself, pronounced Nayyar to be the “Wonder Boy” that he has become and remains today, now encouraging others to likewise follow in his musical footsteps.