Meet Neil Nayyar, the Indian American musical child prodigy

Elk Grove, CA, Mayor Bobby Singh-Allen (left) bestowed the “City of Elk Grove Arts, Culture and Heritage Volunteer of the Year 2021” to the 15-year-old Indian American prodigy Neil Nayyar last week.
Elk Grove, CA, Mayor Bobby Singh-Allen (left) bestowed the “City of Elk Grove Arts, Culture and Heritage Volunteer of the Year 2021” to the 15-year-old Indian American prodigy Neil Nayyar last week.

Assist Foundation’s youngest world record holder plays 107 musical instruments!

Neil Nayyar played a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace at a recnt candlelight vigil honoring the four Sikh shooting victims of last month’s Indianapolis FedEx gun massacre.

At the annual Mayor’s Volunteer Awards in the city of Elk Grove in California last week, the 15-year-old, Indian American school kid was the proud recipient of the honor.

Mayor Bobby Singh-Allen bestowed the title of City of Elk Grove Arts, Culture and Heritage Volunteer of the Year 2021 on Nayyar, who has been performing for local humanitarian causes and raising awareness about issues that matter.

The local awards conferred annually recognize the significant contributions that local volunteers make by donating their time and talents to worthy causes.

READ: Indian American child prodigy Tiara Abraham, 10, releases debut album (December 17, 2016)

Nayyar, a child prodigy is the Assist Foundation’s youngest world record holder for the most instruments mastered by a single musician. He currently plays over 107 unique instruments.

Neil Nayyar
Neil Nayyar

Recognizing earlier Sikh mass shooting victims, the memorial ceremony for FedEx victims was held at the newly constructed Elk Grove Singh and Kaur Park honoring two Sikh grandfathers senselessly killed while out walking in 2011.

Talking about his rare talent, the musical genius says, “When I was 12, I could play 44 musical instruments. Now I play 107.” Neil has had many impressive feats early on in his musical journey. He has voluntarily performed for events including the United Nations Association of Sacramento Chapter for many years.

In February this year, he was recognized for his efforts receiving a plaque from UN Association of Sacramento Chapter President Eddie Trujillo. Neil has also performed at numerous Pride, multicultural and local festivals over many years.

Talking about his message to the youth, Nayyar says, “My message to youth here and all over the world is to do volunteer work. I play music instruments from around the world including Wind, Brass, Strings, and Percussions.”

Born in the US, Nayyar’s family emigrated from Chandigarh, India in 1998. Contrary to what most people assume, Nayyar does not belong to a family of musicians. In fact there is no one in the family who plays music.

There is an interesting backstory to his musical genius. When Nayyar’s mom was expecting, she and his dad read a book that said if exposed to music in the womb, kids can become musicians.

The couple decided to take up this instrument and would put a small speaker over the womb. When Neil was two, his parents bought him a drum set from a local ToysRUs, but he did not show much interest.

The family didn’t think much of it, until at age six, they took him to a free drum class, where he began playing like someone who already knows how to play.

Everyone was amazed and that is when Nayyar’s mom Sukhbinder Kaur thought of giving him more exposure to music. Since then he has had many music teachers, some in California, others in India and all over the world.

Nayyar began with drum, guitar, piano, flute, saxophone, bansuri, sitar and then the list kept growing. His parents say due to their Indian roots, naturally his life is influenced by Indian Culture. He loves Bollywood, Indian food, Indian music, clothing etc.

It’s his music instruments from various countries, which are exposing him to different cultures. A fan of Indian actor Salman Khan fan, Nayyar practices music for 6-8 hours every day and is happiest when he’s playing music, he says.

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