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Melody holds musician

MEGHA RUPA

S. Shankar, one of the leading singers of Carnatic music, believes individual attention is a must for a fruitful learning experience

Photo: V. Sreenivasa murthy

LEARNING S. Shankar: `The guidance of the guru is very important'

"As a little child, I would sit on my bed, hold the serving spoon, imagine it to be the mike and start performing!" says Vidwan S. Shankar in the course of a delightful conversation with him. Today, a performer for over three decades, there is much to his credit. Deriving sole inspiration from his talented mother Rajamma Shastri, he moved onto learn from Nagarathna Bai and eventually received professional training from Vallabham Kalyana Sundaram.

He won the first prize in All India Radio competition in 1973, which he says was primarily what got him into limelight. He participated in the National Programme of music over AIR and Doordarshan in 1998 and also in the Radio Sangeetha Sammelan in 1992 and 2004 in Mumbai. An A grade artiste of the AIR and Doordarshan, a recipient of the Best Musician award by the Bangalore Gayana Samaj, The Best Young Musician award by the Music Academy, Chennai, and titles like Sangeetha Kala Pratibhamani, Sangeetha Vidyanidhi and Kala Bhushana to name a few, he has performed prolifically in the state and outside. Despite working as a senior accountant at the A.G.'s office, he has participated in conducting a music workshop held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, performs jugalbandhi concerts and has directed music for musical features and documentaries and for dramas on the A.I.R and Doordarshan.

As a performer, he believes in the importance of knowing "what" is being presented in a concert, and on this count, he remains indebted to the late T.N. Padmanabhan and S. Krishnamurthy who have helped him with selecting pieces for concerts and enriching him with their interpretation. "The values and the general approach to life contribute to a person's music," he says firmly, and a key figure who moulded him in his direction to become a complete musician has been Padmacharan, who widened the frontiers of his understanding of music and largely shaped the philosophies and ideals of life that he upholds today.

He is training a good number of students, many of whom are promising. He has drawn heavily from his Guru Vallabham Kalyana Sundaram in his teaching methodology, and has much to say with this regard. Just as we choose the kind of people we would like to interact with, so does a guru pick his students and vice versa. The pitch, voice, range, individual tempo, teaching style must be matched and individual attention is a must for a fruitful learning experience.

He lays great emphasis on listening to live concerts devoid of any personal biases towards the artiste. By this a lot is absorbed unconsciously by the student, and to say the least, good concerts charge one up to practice harder. Listening to records of maestros of the yester years like Musri Subramanya Iyer, M.D. Ramanathan, Balamurali Krishna, K.V. Narayanswamy, R.K. Srikanthan helps students make their music more holistic in terms of shruti alignment, laya, diction and manodharma.

While the apparent trend seems to be that the youngsters although genuinely interested in music, rush to start performing, he says rather frankly, that if a novice enters the platform, he will have to face the mishap of an unsuccessful start. Thus the guidance and approval of the guru is of primary importance. Learning is best when the teacher-student relation is a blend of respect and freedom. Just as finding the right guru is a boon, finding the right kind of students who are receptive to what the guru tries to imbibe is also a boon.

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