Class 9 English Answers -The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan

Get here answers and solutions to questions and exercises in the chapter ‘The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan’ which is Part II of the Lesson ‘The Sound of Music’. Click here for more Class 9 English study materials.

The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan- Question Answers

Thinking about the Text (Page 25)

I. Tick the right answer.

  1. The (shehnai, pungi) was a ‘reeded noisemaker.’
  2. (Bismillah Khan, A barber, Ali Bux) transformed the pungi into a shehnai.
  3. Bismillah Khan’s paternal ancestors were (barbers, professional musicians).
  4. Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from (Ali Bux, Paigambar Bux,
    Ustad Faiyaaz Khan).
  5. Bismillah Khan’s first trip abroad was to (Afghanistan, U.S.A., Canada).

Answers: Pungi 2. Ali Bux 3. professional musicians 4. Ali Bux 5. Afghanistan

II. Find the words in the text which show Ustad Bismillah Khan’s feelings about the items listed below. Then mark a tick (✔) in the correct column. Discuss your answers in class.


III. Answer these questions in 30–40 words.

1. Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?

Answer: Aurangzeb banned the playing of the pungi in the royal residence because he found its sound shrill and unpleasant.

2. How is a shehnai different from a pungi?

Answer: A shehnai is different from a pungi in terms of tonal quality and design. The shehnai has a longer and broader hollow stem, with seven holes on its body, allowing for the production of soft and melodious sounds when played.

3. Where was the shehnai played traditionally? How did Bismillah Khan change this?

Answer: Traditionally, the shehnai was played in temples and at weddings. Bismillah Khan changed this by bringing the shehnai onto the classical stage and elevating its status as a solo instrument in Indian classical music.

4. When and how did Bismillah Khan get his big break?

Answer: Bismillah Khan got his big break with the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow in 1938. He became a frequently heard shehnai player on the radio, gaining recognition and popularity.

5. Where did Bismillah Khan play the shehnai on 15 August 1947? Why was the event historic?

Answer: Bismillah Khan played the shehnai from the Red Fort on 15 August 1947, when India gained independence. This event was historic because he became the first Indian to greet the nation with his music, performing Raag Kafi, and his performance was witnessed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who delivered his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech.

6. Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A.?

Answer: Bismillah Khan refused to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A. because he believed that the atmosphere and essence of Benaras, including the presence of the holy Ganga river, could not be replicated outside of India.

7. Find at least two instances in the text which tell you that Bismillah Khan loves India and Benaras.

Answer: Two instances indicating Bismillah Khan’s love for India and Benaras are: (a) His fondness for Benaras and Dumraon, considering them the most wonderful towns in the world. (b) His statement that whenever he is in a foreign country, he yearns to see Hindustan, and while in Mumbai, he thinks of Benaras and the holy Ganga.

Thinking about Language (Page 26)

I. Complete the following sentences. Beginning with a to-verb, try to answer the questions in brackets.

1. The school sports team hopes (What does it hope to do?)

2. We all want (What do we all want to do?)

3. They advised the hearing-impaired child’s mother (What

did they advise her to do?)

4. The authorities permitted us to (What did the authorities permit us to do?)

5. A musician decided to (What did the musician decide to do?

Answers:(Answers may vary as there can be more than one answer to each of the blanks)

1. to win. 2. to go on a vacation. 3. to take her to a specialist. 4. to organize a charity event. 5. to hold a free music concert for an orphanage

II. From the text on Bismillah Khan, find the words and phrases that match these definitions and write them down. The number of the paragraph where you will find the words/phrases has been given for you in brackets.

1. the home of royal people (1) _________

2. the state of being alone (5) _________

3. a part which is absolutely necessary (2)_________

4. to do something not done before (5) _________

5. without much effort (13) _________

6. quickly and in large quantities (9)_________  and _________


1. the home of royal people (1) the royal residence

2. the state of being alone (5) solitude

3. a part which is absolutely necessary (2) indispensable

4. to do something not done before (5) invent

5. without much effort (13) effortlessly

6. quickly and in large quantities (9) thick and fast

II. Tick the right answer.

1. When something is revived, it (remains dead/lives again).

2. When a government bans something, it wants it (stopped/started).

3. When something is considered auspicious, (welcome it/avoid it).

4. When we take to something, we find it (boring/interesting).

5. When you appreciate something, you (find it good and useful/find it of no use).

6. When you replicate something, you do it (for the first time/for the second time). 7. When we come to terms with something, it is (still upsetting/no longer upsetting).


1. lives again 2. stopped 3. welcome it 4. interesting 5. find it good and useful 6. for the second time 7. no longer upsetting

IV. Dictionary Work:
Consult your dictionary and complete the following table. The first one has been done for you


Use of words/phrases in Sentences:

  • indispensable: A good pair of shoes is indispensable for hiking.
  • impressed: The audience was impressed by the magician’s tricks.
  • afraid: Never be afraid of failures.
  • outdoor: Football is an outdoor game.
  • paternal: Her weakness made him feel very paternal towards her.
  • countless: There are countless stars in the sky.
  • priceless: Her friendship is priceless to me.

Writing (Page 29)

“If you work hard and know where you’re going, you’ll get there,” says Evelyn Glennie.
You have now read about two musicians, Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Do you think that they both worked hard? Where did they want to ‘go’ ?
Answer these questions in two paragraphs, one on each of the two musicians.


Both Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan exemplified hard work, dedication, and a clear vision of where they wanted to “go” in their musical careers. For Glennie, it meant breaking barriers as a deaf percussionist and inspiring others with her talent. For Khan, it meant elevating the shehnai’s status and making it a respected instrument in the world of classical music. Their relentless pursuit of excellence and determination to overcome obstacles played a pivotal role in their respective journeys towards success.

Below are given paragraphs on each of the two – Evelyn Glennie and Ustad Bismillah Khan

Paragraph on Evelyn Glennie

Evelyn Glennie, a renowned Scottish percussionist, undoubtedly worked hard to achieve her remarkable success in the music industry. As the first full-time solo percussionist in the world, Glennie had to overcome significant challenges, particularly being deaf since the age of 12. Despite this obstacle, she dedicated herself to honing her craft, developing her ability to perceive sound through physical vibrations and becoming a master of percussion instruments. Glennie’s hard work and determination were evident in her extensive practice routines, relentless pursuit of musical excellence, and numerous performances and recordings. Her relentless pursuit of musical excellence, combined with her unique approach to sound perception, propelled her to become an internationally acclaimed musician, collaborating with esteemed orchestras and composers worldwide. For Evelyn Glennie, “going” meant pushing the boundaries of what was possible for a percussionist, breaking stereotypes, and inspiring others with her extraordinary talent and resilience.

Paragraph on Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan, an iconic Indian shehnai maestro, was another musician who exemplified hard work and dedication. Khan’s journey began in the town of Dumraon in Bihar, India, where he started learning the shehnai, a traditional Indian wind instrument, at a young age. He spent countless hours practicing and refining his skills under the guidance of his guru. Khan’s aspiration was to bring recognition and respect to the shehnai, an instrument typically associated with auspicious occasions and ceremonies in India. Through years of rigorous practice and performance, Ustad Bismillah Khan not only became a virtuoso shehnai player but also revolutionized the way the instrument was perceived. His performances on national and international stages brought the shehnai into the realm of classical music and exposed it to wider audiences worldwide. Ustad Bismillah Khan’s hard work and determination allowed him to elevate the shehnai’s status and establish himself as a legendary musician, leaving an indelible mark on Indian classical music.

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