Learning on a different note

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 09:53 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

With music lessons taking the virtual route, we find out what this means for teachers who are conducting classes online

Niladri Kumar
Niladri Kumar

UP until now, Indian classical music had relied on the Gurumukhi tradition of education, wherein a teacher would orally impart lessons that students would practise later on. But this 21st century lockdown is changing that. Classes have now shifted online, not just for classical music, but for other genres as well. Physical learning has come to a complete standstill. So what does this mean for youngsters keen to learn vocals or an instrument? What are the pros and cons? And will this new method of education persist in the future, even when the situation has normalised?

Sitar maestro Niladri Kumar is one person who has the answers, considering he is conducting digital classes right now as part of The Foundation Room (TFR), a music school started under the auspices of his father, Pt Kartick Kumar. He says that personally, there is a certain merit to the Gurumukhi tradition that can't be replicated online. But he adds that he is also working on a blended model where the feeling of being up close and personal with your teacher can be achieved even in the virtual world. One way of doing this is to send a recorded video to students at the end of each class.

Taufiq Qureshi
Taufiq Qureshi

"What happens in a physical class is that people take notes so that they remember the lessons. But with videos, they can actually see the physicality involved and practise the same at their own convenience, in the comfort of their homes. It makes life easier, and that's a remarkable aspect of online lessons," he says, adding that people like percussionist Taufiq Qureshi and vocalist Saylee Talwalkar are also teaching students digitally at TFR.

Then there's the fact that virtual classes have a pan-India reach, as opposed to a class at the foundation's Bandra centre that's limited to just Mumbai locals. And even for Mumbaikars, it might not make sense for a person living in Borivali to travel three hours both ways to Bandra for a class that is only one-hour long, especially if he or she has reached an advanced stage of learning. But does this mean that online music courses will become more de rigueur post the lockdown? Kumar thinks so. People will get more used to this medium over the next six to eight weeks. "They will even start liking it," he tells us. So given a new world, there will also be a new order, though that doesn't mean that the Gurumukhi tradition will completely be a thing of the past, since — as the sitar maestro says — its merits are set in stone.

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