Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The importance of learning music from the basics

A friend of mine, posted on a general forum about how he went to music classes and dint like them because they taught him the beginners lessons, which are mostly the varisais and he said he would have appreciated probably, if they had taught him a certain piece which he had listened to quite a few times. I see this as the problem of people listening to a lot and start learning late. I dont say that listening to music is wrong and everybody should first learn and then listen. I wouldnt dare to make such statements. However, when u go to learn, you should realise that the learning and listening are two different cups of coffee and one shouldnt mix them up.

I have always strongly believed in the fact that the basics are very important. As meena says, one needs to go thro' the rigorous basics just to be able to not only sing intricate stuff but also to appreciate them, when somebody is doing it on stage.

When one goes to listen at a concert, it is not enough if u get the ragam and composer of the piece being presented. Thats only the beginning. Many a rasika, think identifying these two is the end of the game. For heaven's sake, i wish they understand that, it all begins there. After identifying the rAgam, to be able to appreciate each svaram and each phrase and each usage and to absorb it all, u need to be having a sharp and rigorous trained mind. The saraLi, the jaNTai, the alankArams, the gItams, the varNams, well they are all very important and add a lot to the way one appreciates music and hence enjoy more.

There are some music schools, which start with short and simple songs and later on come to the basics and teach some simple songs along with the basic stuff. There are some supporting theories to such practices also, which say that the interest of the learner is kept alive this way. However, these methodologies claim keep the interest alive but have enough arguements going against them.

I was trained in the traditional way. Varisais for an year. gItams and then varNams. about 25 of them. Then with 'mahA gaNapatim' and 'girirAja sutA' and slowly. It was only after about 50 kritis, did my teacher venture to teach me a vilamba kAla, reNDu kaLai piece. The first one she took up was 'jagadIsvari' in mOhanam. It was not till about 100 pieces did she let me learn pieces like 'sarOja daLa nEtri' or 'EtavunarA' or 'enduku peddalavalE' while pieces like 'mEru samAna', 'akshaya linga vibhO' and 'tyAgarAjAya namastE' came much later. She still is not confident to teach me 'sri subramanayaya namastE' or 'kAmAkshi anudinamunu maravakanE'

In today's fast world, people wish to get things done as soon as they can. Many a parent, while admitting their kid to a music class, dream that their kid would start performing on stage in 2 years and become a star performer in say 5 years or so and finish learning music by then. Such attitudes make life miserable for a teacher who find its it difficult to make the parents believe that such fast paced stuff are not easy. The kids get juggled up and end up loosing interest in music anyway.

Music, still being a fashionable thing to learn and/or perform, has such people who do things without knowing what they loose and what they end up doing to the art of music on the whole. Well, its all part of evolution and one man's shouting on his personal page would do nothing to it. That wouldnt stop him from shouting...

PS: this was written primarily for my music blog. Later felt, it might find some readers here as well, hence copied to this page also.

nice post .... i can add much cuz i have no fundeas in music ... had a nice time reading it
Agree that, it is so important in Indian classical music to start learning while young and start from the basics. But for those who start late, I think it is really important to teach parallely some small small songs which are too simple or even bhajans for that sake after they complete a few basic lessons. There are teachers who drag too much of basics and bore the people too... they never get away from there and take couple of years to reach even geethams.. Such things has to be avoided. It is important to keep things interesting... when I was in school and learnt music, our teacher used to teach us small songs for singing contests parallel to the standard lessons and such things kept us going! A good teacher will know what to give the student! Its not to be blamed on student interest alone.
Very true... I'd started learning the violin last sem - couldn't continue this sem tho :( But when I was learning, I did find it very tempting to rush through the initial parts of the Ganamrutha Bodhini - the sarali, jantai, mael sthayee and alankarams. I started appreciating the need for the basics when my teacher ventured to teach me a general song, apart from the basic course - I just couldn't do it :D Its been over five months since I touched the violin now - gotta get back and start from the first once again...
Hm, interesting post, especially because I have absolutely zook fundaes on music and only by what 'sounds good' to me :)
However, I see a parallel in the way Sanskrit is taught these days. I was fortunate to study under _very_ good teachers, and they insisted on getting _everything_ in sentence right, starting from the very broad alankAra to the smallest alpaprANa and mahAprANa. But then, there's this small problem with having 'trained' ears: you simply can't tolerate something spoken wrongly :-)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?