Songs of the Soul
You are never too old to sing. A city music teacher is making dreams come true with her belief that music is a way to healing and happiness
Light classical music teacher Manasi Kelkar-Tambe is spreading love for music to her students in the city, through Swarmaanas. With classes in Matunga, Dadar and one coming up in Bandra, Swarmaanas has a pan-city reach, which was Kelkar-Tambe’s aim.
MUSICAL CHORDS: Manasi Kelkar-Tambe (c) with her students. Pics/ Sameer Markande
She says, “I started Swarmaanas 13 years ago with the goal of enabling my students to express themselves through music. I want music to be used for a good cause. I never refuse a student and take it as a challenge to teach light classical music to people of all ages. No person should be stopped from singing.”
ANGEL VOICES: The under-10 group trained at Swarmaanas performs
For Saraswati Agashe (75), Manasi Kelkar-Tambe is her guru (teacher). She says, “Age is not a criteria, it is about what one can learn. I started learning two years ago at 73. When I was young, girls were not allowed to go for classes and learn to sing. So this wish that I had, I am fulfilling now. I love singing and want to get better. Manasi is helping me do just that.”
The class at Dadar has 16 senior citizens, mostly women, who come together and pursue their passion for music. Kelkar-Tambe says, “To learn; only passion is needed. Age is just a number. Songs and melody comes from the heart. If it makes someone happy, then they are singing no matter if they are off tune. I try to help my students go from Level I to III. If I manage to help them improve, I have done my bit as a teacher.”
JOY OF SINGING: The senior citizens group performs at the Dadar-Matunga Cultural Centre
Vandana Karve who runs Aawahanpalak Sangh, a Non Government Organisation (NGO) at Dadar for the mentally challenged, has Kelkar-Tambe coming once a week to teach the students. She says, “The 16 girls and 2 boys who are taught every Tuesday for an hour by Manasi, have benefited a lot. They have learnt to sing in tune, with rhythm. They are learning to write and read music which is refreshing to see. They have been learning from her for the last three years. Music has become a means of joy for them.”
MOMENT OF PRIDE: Manasi Kelkar-Tambe (l) with film and television actor Sukanya Kulkarni-Mone at the Swarmaanas academy performance
S Shewade, father of Anuradha, a mentally challenged student says, “My daughter is socialising better and her etiquette has also improved. She has benefited from the group, from her teacher and from music. Whenever she sings, she is always smiling and happy.”
Kelkar-Tambe says, “I have seen music change the lives of many of my students. I don’t charge the mentally challenged students and I am planning to teach blind students also. Singing is my talent and sharing it with others gives me immense joy. I always give my students lots of love and care. It is not about what you say, but, about how you say it.
PERSONALITY: The mentally challenged students have found new expression through light music
With senior citizens and mentally challenged students, as a teacher I have to be very careful.” “I now sing and do most of my work. My grandchildren always appreciate my singing. At the class we have formed a group and have become friends. We celebrate birthdays, festivals, and other occasions.
“It is as though music has changed our lives and bonded us as one big family with Manasi as the main link. She teaches through actions and makes us listen to music and learn which is very easy to grasp,” says Agashe.
“Music has become very commercial today. The therapeutic dimension of it is missing. Through Swarmaanas, I want to spread classical, folk and light music to the common man. Music is for all, and is about healing and happiness which I try to spread through my teaching,” ends Kelkar-Tambe.
106 The number of students who are currently taught by Manasi Kelkar-Tambe’s Swarmaanas between 3 and 75 years of age