(November 4, 2023) When Dr TS Satish Kumar sits by his grand piano and runs his fingers effortlessly across keyboard — magic happens. In 2018, when he broke the ‘World’s fastest piano playing’ record, with a speed of 2,454 notes per minute and 47 notes in a second — piano virtuosos and connoisseurs across the world were stunned. How could he? They wondered. But that was just the beginning of his record-breaking spree. The ‘Piano King’ has gone on to receive nine honorary doctorates from reputed institutions across the world, surpassing even the maestro, A.R. Rahman, who received seven in a twelve-year span. “I draw inspiration from many things. But observing another artist perform and do something extraordinary motivates me the most. It pushes me to perform,” smiles Dr Satish Kumar, the world’s fastest pianist as he connects with Global Indian.
In October, he received his ninth honorary doctorate from Webbic University in Ghana. “I am living my dream due to my parents’ support, for having encouraged me throughout my journey. All parents must support their children to take up any form of art they are passionate about,” insists the pianist, whose music is described as ‘mesmerising, soulful and magical’. “Once I start playing the piano, my fingers move automatically. It’s like the fingers have their own brains. It just flows,” says Dr Satish.
In 2020, he received the “World’s Best Pianist” title by playing classical music on piano with left hand and tabla with right hand. The event was organised by the Bravo International book of world records – UAE. “I don’t get nervous or think about anything while playing piano. I just go out there and play it confidently. For me, just being confident is the key to success,” believes the music maestro.
An early passion
Born in Eluru in Andhra Pradesh, Satish was passionate about music right from his childhood. His father, Thota Jayaprakasa Rao, was a teacher at St Ambrose High School, where he also studied. “When I was in second standard, my father taught me how to play the Harmonium. He was my first teacher. I used to play it during the cultural programmes at school,” recalls Dr Satish, who now lives in Hyderabad.
“I had a great music sense from the very beginning,” he says. Within a short span, he picked up the nuances with ease. He went on to complete his M.Sc (Mathematics) from Osmania University and M.Phil (maths) from Madras university.
While he was fine tuning his skills for hours each day, it was in 2015 that he started playing the piano real fast. “I did not know that I could run my fingers on the keys this fast,” smiles Dr Satish, who gave a live performance in Dubai in 2019. Once he gained confidence that he too could do something extraordinary with a piano, Satish keenly watched the performances of all those musicians who were famous for playing piano. “Watching them motivated me. I contacted the World Records India to test my speed. The rest is history,” says the extremely talented musician.
The record-breaking spree
When Satish broke the world record in 2018, the previous record at the time was 1,208 notes in a minute by another Indian, Aman Bathla. “It was my first attempt and I played double the number of notes Aman did,” he says, beaming with pride.
Dr Satish received his first doctorate in music from the prestigious Berkeley University in California. Among other institutions to have recognised his contributions are the Royal American University, Delaware University and London University of Arts and culture.
“About 150 world record organisations from the USA, London, Australia, Dubai among other countries have tested my piano playing skills,” informs Dr Satish. All of them were taken aback by his skills. “They keep asking me how I do it, I tell them I just have the confidence to do it. I firmly believe that hard work never fails.”
He performed before chancellors of nine universities to get his Honorary doctorates. All of them agreed that Dr Satish performs effortlessly. That is besides the number of performances he gave in Hyderabad.
Dr Satish is a well-qualified musician. He holds a diploma in vocal classical and tabla from Potti Sreeramulu university, Hyderabad. He also trained in the drums and piano, reaching the eighth grade from the Trinity College, London. “I am the only person to have achieved the eighth grade in two instruments,” says the multifaceted musician, who also plays guitar and flute.
Prior to breaking world records, Dr Satish would practice six hours each day. Now, at his Kalanidhi school of music, which he founded to impart training in a variety of music instruments, he is at the keyboard of his acoustic piano for almost 10 hours. “I am training many students in music and some of them are already performing in other countries,” informs the musician, who has also earned international titles like World’s smartest pianist, music Genious , Doctor of music, Piano Samrat. Among the national titles he earned are Kala Shiromani, Kala Ratna, Music Genius among others.
He says the aim his music school is to provide a platform for developing musical skills. “We regularly send students to Trinity college, London for grade examination training for piano, drums and guitar. They are also trained for live performances.”
His music school has already produced more than 1500 musicians but Satish carries on tirelessly. “I intend to train one lakh musicians before I retire,” he declares, adding, “I have to pass on my skills to the next generation so that they too smash all world records and leave their mark.”