Dec 10, 2009

Ren Merry

(This article on the virtuoso earlier published in Music magazine, Strings Journal)


I was born in (Wokha) Nagaland, India and had a keen interest for music since childhood days. I was fascinated with the concept of musical sounds and remember trying to experiment with various objects to create musical instruments. My first ‘stringed instrument’ was a piece of bamboo with a cut out hole in the middle strung with copper wires.

My first real guitar was a Reynolds acoustic guitar which was given to me as a gift from my uncle. There were two things that I was pre-occupied with as a teenager: One was my love for soccer, and the other was my passionate love for music which manifested itself through the guitar. I would spend many hours listening to long-playing records (there were no CD’s or I-pods in the 70’s) trying to copy the guitar lines and chord progressions note by note. My family moved to Dimapur in the early 70’s from Wokha and my passion for music continued to grow. I attended Christian English School. Next to the school was a band called the “Fore ‘n’ Afts” and I remember the many magical moments of peeping through the windows of the room where they would practice and being intensely captivated by these musicians and their manner of music making. I would go home, grab my guitar and continue the daily ritual of listening to records and practicing.

After matriculation he went to Shillong, Meghalaya for college studies. He continued to practice and play rock/pop guitar. One day he noticed an unusual book displayed by the window of a book store in Shillong. It was simply titled “Solo Guitar” by Frederick Noad. It was book on classical guitar technique. Ren Merry bought it and started learning to read and play classical guitar. At the same time he had an Anglo-Irish friend who was a skilled pianist. One day Merry heard him playing “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. “It was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I had ever heard. I wanted to play that on the guitar. These events changed the course of my musical pursuits as I parted from my attachment to rock music and began learning classical music” he says.

However, while his love for classical music grew, Merry’s admiration for rock groups like Deep Purple, Queen, Kansas and Yes, stayed on because of the complexity of their music and skillful playing.


My childhood days were filled with a deep sense of emptiness, insecurity and fear. I found my refuge and solace in the world of music at least temporarily. During high school and college I got into harmful abuses and ungodly living. The genuine transformation of the life of a fellow classmate in college was an eye opener. Dino, a popular athlete on campus became a born-again Christian. I saw a drastic change in his behavior and priorities. I eventually realized my own hopeless spiritual condition and saw Christ as my only hope of salvation and security. I did what became the most crucial decision in my entire life. I repented of my sins and received Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I became involve with the EU fellowship and later joined a Christian group called the New Life Singers as a guitarist. The Lord eventually led me to meeting evangelist Dr. Robert Cunville with whom I traveled as a guitarist for a couple of years to a number of villages and Indian cities for evangelistic crusades. The Lord eventually opened the door for me to go to the US to study music at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.


Upon graduation in 1992 with a Master’s degree in Music Performance, Ren Merry returned to Nagaland with his American wife Tammie to teach at Patkai Christian College. Following a five years stint he left for the United States. There, he taught music at Westminster Christian Academy in Louisiana, the United States, for seven years. He is currently working on his doctoral studies in Music Education at the University of Northern Colorado as well as teaching middle school choral music. He still practices the guitar even after playing for more than 30 years knowing that “my fingers will get rusty if I do not.”

“There is also the joy of discovering new music and working on challenging pieces. I would say my favorite guitar pieces have always been the transcribed works of Johann Sebastian Bach whose music is not only magnificent but challenging to memorize as well” the virtuoso says.

“As I continue to grow as a believer in Christ, my sole desire is to live in surrender and obedience to the One who has given me new life and a renewed sense of purpose for living. My prayer and desire is to use this wonderful gift of music to glorify Christ and to reach out to others”

He sets this challenge to aspiring Naga musicians: Set your priorities right. Focus your goals and persevere through hard work.
“Examine everything carefully, including music. Remember that there is music that builds and music that destroys” Merry reminds. Of the higher calling the very purpose of music is with, he urges to keep in reminder to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s: “Remember where your gifts come from. Don’t waste it. Use it solely for the glory of the Lord. Discipline yourself for excellence. Work hard. Avoid distractions.”

The virtuoso is a dedicated father much as his passion for music. He is married 17 years to wife Tammie and is blessed with three children Nathan (12), Areni (9) and Therali (5). Tammie, herself a pianist, desires to learn to play the cello. The brood is also already in the steps of their parents. Nathan plays the saxophone while Areni is taking Piano lessons.

• One, titled Ren Merry: Classical Guitar. A collection of hymn arrangements and originals.


• All time favorite food: Rice and dal with hot chicken curry.
• Favorite pastime: Watching soccer and hiking with family.
• One of his earliest bands was ‘Smile Band.’ This band was formed when he was in Wokha on a brief vacation. Did a couple of local shows. The band kaput when he left for the States again!


  1. Ha, same old Ngullie trying to be a music critic with his put on English. Don't know how an establish paper like Morung Experess publishes his woks without editing. Am truly a fan of Ren and he is a genious!!!Als reviews are a shame to Naga journalism. I'm sure he can attend learn English classes, there must be one in Dimapur.Take cue from Rolling Stone mag and other music magazines!
    Prakash Jain,
    Karol Bagh,
    New Delhi

  2. Hello Mr. 'Prakash jain' Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and share in my humble indulgences. If I may please point out here, I am convinced that you have a vendetta of some nature against me. Only you, Mr. 'Jain' can explain the reasons for your apparently overt dislike for me. I shall be grateful if you would please weight your opinions carefully, before expressing them.

    I am certain that you have a vendetta to carry out. Read your comment carefully and you will see what I mean: you didn't even READ this particular blog on Ren Merry and lashed out against me. Why? Did you really read this blog? It is NOT a review, Mr. 'Jain'. There are no critiques, no opinions, no assessment as much as it is without any exposition on the talent or works of Mr. Merry here! - Because this story (first published in Strings Journal) is about the life of Mr. Merry! Self-explanatory for anyone who reads this blog. Please read the article again if you have the time.

    Also, you copied and pasted the comment that you had made on the Abiogenesis blog. Considering the same contextual references you have made regarding my works, I have no doubt you have a vendetta. Why not come out in the open? That way I might even decide to respect your regressive attitude.

    Regarding you suggestion that I take some "cue" from "magazines" like Rolling Stone and "other magazines", I am exceedingly amused :)

    I am amused because you mentioned Rolling Stone! (it's so ironic) If I wanted to, I would have put you in your place by giving you a very small surprise here. Which Rolling Stone are you referring to? The Indian edition or the US edition of Rolling Stone? Along with Rolling Stone, you should also have mentioned the RSJ, American., Billboard TopPicks or even Metal Observer among others so that I can give you the small surprise:)

    I will certainly share your "cue" suggestion with some people from certain publications and websites you might be interested to learn about. Thank you for your time and opinion.

  3. hey mr. 'Jain', you don't know that Ren Merry is al ngullie's cousin brother? poor Sop :P

  4. This "Mr. jain" didn't even read the blog!!!! He though it would be a review/critique just because the author was Al Ngullie. Al Ngullie doesn't always write critiques, he is a one of the top news journalists in the North East too. Fuckface "Jain from delhi"