For the love of classical music

Aparna Shivapura explores the multilayered benefits of music workshops as she traces the activities of organisations that have been making positive strides in this space

Highlights: 
Organisations like these attempt to break the barrier between classical music and common people, and make it accessible to all.

Classical music is an integral part of the cultural heritage of the State. It isn’t merely about entertainment, rather research has shown that it has therapeutic effects, and is quite beneficial as it contributes to the academic, emotional and spiritual development of a child. Thereby, music workshops are quite popular these days and have become a viable platform to showcase one’s talent. They have ensured that classical music reaches various rural and urban communities.  

For young minds
While it’s a colossal task to organise music workshops in rural areas due to the operational and infrastructural challenges, it’s inspiring to see organisations focussed on teaching music in villages. R K Padmanabha, a renowned musician and connoisseur, says, “We have been conducting workshops and festivals in Rudrapatna for years. It is gratifying to see how it is helping in the holistic development of the children.” 

Nadasurabhi, a cultural association in Bengaluru, has been reinventing itself to appeal to the millennials and professional musicians alike. Five years ago, they launched Nadasurabhi Education, a programme dedicated to teaching carnatic music. They organise workshops every quarter on different themes such as pancharatna krithis, purandaradasa krithis, songs of Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri’s compositions.

With the support of veterans like Neela Ramgopal, Bangalore Shankar, Papanasam Ashok Ramani, Rudrapatna Tyagarajan and others, the association has been successful in spreading the word of classical music among the masses by focusing on the rural and urban populace. Raghavan, the president, says, “It is amazing to see people of all age groups, up to 70, participating with great enthusiasm. Hence, we design the workshops in small capsules to ensure that it is easy to internalise.”

Organisations like these attempt to break the barrier between classical music and common people, and make it accessible to all. 

Innovation in learning
The Sri Guruguha Sangeetha Mahavidyalaya in Shivamogga has innovated with traditional format and introduced informal workshops in homes to make it interesting and accessible to the people. They also have raga-specific workshops such as raga darshana, eka vyakthi manodharma, ghosti gayana, navagraha, nava varna and more. Sringeri Nagaraj, the founder, says, “Classical music is perceived as tough, elitist and limited to a niche audience. This view has to change, and the music must go beyond performances to being a penance, to achieve something in life.”

Raga Dhana, a music organisation in Udupi, under Aravinda Hebbar and Vasanta Lakshmi Hebbar, has been conducting workshops, lecture series and demonstrations on various themes like rare ragas and krithis, with the help of music veterans like Aruna Sairam, Suguna Purushothaman and T R Subramaniam. To ensure that their efforts are successful, it has launched the ‘Griha Sangeeth Baitaks’, where a group of people is taught classical music in an informal setting. 

Ananya, a similar organisation in Bengaluru, teaches music on air. In association with IFA (India Foundation for the Arts) it launched a 21-episode All India Radio programme called ‘Haadu Hakki’ in 2006, to teach carnatic music to rural and semi-urban children across the State. The programme comprised seminars by veteran musicians, and course material was also given out to the listeners. R V Raghavendra of Ananya says, “One of our key objectives is to familiarise the listener with the complex ragas and ensure he or she can identify it, thereby, ensuring that there are an acceptance and internalisation of classical music.”  

While there is an array of workshops on classical music, it is important to choose the right one. Music experts say that it is advisable to avoid workshops which are commercial in nature, as they pack too many sessions in a day, mix classical with populist music, do not have good teachers or crowd it with many attendees.

Gajanana Hegde of Swara Samvedana Prathistana in Sirsi says, “It is easy to teach in cities but quite challenging in the villages. Our village is today a platform where great musicians collaborate and work towards the cause of teaching music, promoting classical heritage for future generations.”

Belliappa, a farmer in Kundapura, says, “We grew up tilling the soil but the hardships are too much and we want our children to have a better quality of life. In the past few years, we see a greater number of music teachers, festivals and workshops in our village which is building greater awareness amongst our children.” 

Some of these organisations are teaching classical music to children in small towns and cities, while others at informal gatherings in villages. The purpose across the diverse formats is the same, to take the legacy ahead, and create a platform for the younger generation to contribute to the rich heritage. 

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For the love of classical music

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