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Gurukula goes global


There's hope for those who want to learn their Carnatic music lessons in the traditional way

WELL PACKAGED We've come a long way since the time when gurukula meant personalised attention. Carnatica Global Gurukulam has not only revived past glory, but has also given overseas students the option of learning on the Net

It is the way classical music was meant to be taught. With aakara sadhana, breath control, voice-management with voice culture and all that which makes for a truly well-rounded and complete musician.

Unfortunately, much of these essential components have been lost in today's methods which stress a rather rushed and sketchy route through the mandatory saraleswaras, janti swaras to varnams and krithis minus these finer points.

Of course, there are still a few traditional music gurus and good institutions where the old method is followed but only a few students get to benefit.

Back to old times

Well-known vocalists K.N. Shashikiran and S. Sowmya wanted to do something about it. They founded, in 1997, the Carnatica Global Gurukulam (CGG) in Chennai which revives the methodical and comprehensive traditional system of music teaching and making it available to a wide range of students, in the process using all the benefits of modern technology.

They have musicians such as T.N. Krishnan on the board with the likes of Prof. S.R. Janakiraman, T. S. Parthasarathy and V. Subramaniam who guide Carnatica on the teaching side, for all its branches across Tamilnadu.

Local chapter

CGG opened its Bangalore chapter a year ago with R.K. Srikanthan as its chairperson. This branch started off thanks to the untiring efforts of Chitra Sherman, the manager-convenor. Sherman's own lineage explains her dedication to music. Her uncle is the renowned film-music composer K.V. Mahadevan and great-grandfather Ramakrishna Bhagavathar, who was the asthana vidwan at the Travancore court.

Shashikiran and cousin Ganesh actually travel to Bangalore two-three times every month for a few days each to teach here. CGG has Bangalore-based faculty too. The USP of Carnatica is its syllabus. Besides, the usual steps and the training for auditions and music exams, the curriculum covers aspects like concert-presentation methodology, voice culture and care (including cure of vocal defects) and audio-video engineering basics (training using microphones in ac/non-ac halls/studio atmosphere). There are also stress-management courses and special music therapy for pregnant women.

There is no academic year beginning and end, and the whole course is purely module-based and includes all age groups and various levels of music experience from beginners to advanced learners wanting to clarify technical points.

Seamless education

The uniform curriculum across all the Gurukulams and the Cyber Vidyalaya ensures a seamless education sans discontinuity problems even when students have to relocate. Carnatica also boasts a Cyber Vidyalaya (where webcams and audio transmission make it possible to learn directly from Sowmya and Shashikiran from anywhere in the world) and production of theme-oriented CDs, VCDs (both live-recorded) and audio cassettes including unique ones like geethams, a 72-melakartha thalams by T.K. Murthy (a three VCD-set), a Carnatic Pep Album featuring fast-paced Carnatic music compositions with western-orchestra style music for background.

Music quizzes and essay competitions on classical music are the other interesting activities.

The Bangalore chapter has another important feature in its practice sessions module. Generally, once the actual classes are over, students are left to practice at home. And many either skip these or go through them without anybody around to correct or guide them. Sherman insists they also attend two practice sessions every week where she checks and guides them. So the next time they face their teacher they are well-prepared having done their homework well.

Concert-attendance is also necessary and will be rewarded with credits.

The Bangalore chapter, like its parent organisation, also organises concerts by eminent artists (a major one is coming up in September) and workshops — they've held two successful ones on voice-management.

In-house albums

It also retails Carnatica's cassettes and VCDs. Here, besides Carnatic vocal and instrumental music, you can also learn Hindustani music (vocal and instrumental) besides the western guitar.

CGG plans to have Music at Your Doorstep programme, wherein competent music teachers will be made available for individual or institutional teaching.

For details contact Carnatica Global Gurukulam, Srishti's Carnatica Pvt Ltd., IInd Cross, Matadahalli Extension, R.T. Nagar, Bangalore 560032. Phone: 51244767, 98807 32309.

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