The melodies in schools

The melodies in schools

I don't like music but enjoy the way Aparna ma'am engages us in the music class," quips Suraj Rana. "My dream is to take part in a music reality show. This is just the right foundation," chuckles Pavithra. "I copy tunes for the songs in the textbook from the ones we learn in the music class. It helps me memorise and recall them easily," Anitha shares her secret. Aparna Katti, the music teacher, had just finished a session with the students of Geddalahalli Government School in Bengaluru. Music was introduced in the school as part of the curriculum six months ago. "Most of these students cannot afford to go to music classes. Music has helped improve their class dynamics," says  

Shivamma R, the school headteacher. Some parents are happy that their children sit with the music book almost every day after school hours, she adds.  

Joy of learning

This is one of the several schools in Bengaluru where music classes are held as part of the school curriculum. This innovative concept has been put into practice in educational institutions by SaPa in Schools (SIS), an initiative of Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SaPa). "There has been a lot of research on the importance of music education for children. In spite of the benefits it offers, there are not many efforts in the country in this regard," say Bindu and Ambi Subramaniam, who head the programme. The initiative is grounded in the belief that learning music has several positive effects on children both academically and emotionally, as proved through Mozart effect.

Begun in 2014, SIS has reached out to over 20,000 children across cross-sections. "Irrespective of their differences in exposure and socio-economic conditions, we have found that children get connected to music in the same way, and instantly, if we make it interesting for them," explain Bindu and Ambi. To achieve this, SaPa has created a comprehensive pedagogy which is age-appropriate and activity-based. The programme caters to children between the age of three and 16. Schools generally decide the age group and SIS has customised material for each age group.

In Geddalahalli Government School, students were thoroughly enjoying the music class. "This is one session where they don't have to be silent. We try to make the sessions as interactive as possible," says Aparna, who has been associated with SIS for the past two years. She is working with 10 schools and feels that the acceptance level is high in small children, while high school students show resistance initially but get involved as sessions progress.

Along with Carnatic music, the students get exposure to songs from across the world. Besides poems in the languages known to them, the syllabus also has songs from other languages like Bengali and Swahili. "It's fun to learn a song in an unknown language and pick the words through it," says Suraj. The teachers use gestures in these classes so that students can understand the songs easily. Such activities open a window of knowledge to young minds. While academic alertness is apparent, Aparna has also noticed positive changes in their attitude and behaviour.

To customise the programme and make it child-friendly, SaPa has collaborated with like-minded institutions from around the world. A comprehensive methodology has been developed and is delivered through various activities. SIS trains music teachers through books and audio and video material developed for the purpose. "Depending on the requirement, we either train the school's existing music faculty or provide SaPa certified faculty," says Bindu. The teachers are trained in both syllabus and methodology. To make the activities effective, SaPa collaborates with the schools to develop an appropriate learning environment to teach global music. Thereby, the entire programme is tailor-made to suit the needs of each school.  

Better performance

The programme has been successfully tried at government and private schools in both urban and rural areas. SaPa provides each student with learning material including a book and app-based access to the audio material. "Students generally have one period of music per week. Simple instruments and appropriate videos are used to enrich the learning experience. At the end of the academic year, assessments are conducted for students and certificates are provided," says Aparna.

Talking of the positive results, Bindu says, "We are happy to see the impact music has on their lives, how it has helped them perform better and brought in a transformation in them." With all the benefits it offers, it's time music reverberates in the centres of learning. To know more about the programme, one can visit www.sapaindia.com.

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