Learning, practising and performing a fine art is a great way to increase physical and mental wellbeing. Communication is a key part of what makes performing arts a success, whether it's an actor or musician communicating with the audience, a director communicating with the actor or a choreographer communicating with the dancer — it will only work if everyone communicates and cooperates. Therefore, involvement in the performing arts helps improve and develop interpersonal skills.
There is evidence to suggest that involvement in Music, Dance and Drama can improve general concentration levels, as well as adding a new depth of knowledge and understanding to other subject areas. There are also spiritual and psychological benefits, as the performing arts encourage self-discipline, self-expression, calmness and fulfilment.
There are several perspectives to this. On a social level, learning and practising a fine art sharpens our sensitivities to more subtle issues, emotions and expressions. It gives a sense of belonging to a particular culture, a sense of identity and a sense of evolution from merely existing to earn and spend.
Indian classical music, for instance, enriches us in many ways. To start with, the yogic posture of Padmasana is practised while learning or performing. This is directly related to our confidence level and state of mind at any given time.
The practice of aligning one's voice or instrument to a particular sruthi or pitch makes us focus on something stressless and enriching. This helps us to stay in tune with a particular frequency that indirectly improves our alignment faculty.
Remembering the grammar of a certain raga and its structure enables a certain method in creativity that leads to organised thought. Art is not random creativity, but artistically organised expression of creative thoughts.
Next, on the psychological level, Indian music soothes the senses and connects one to the Within. The spiritual anchor it provides crosses the boundaries of region or religion.
The tala or the rhythm provides the track for the music to manifest in a very systematic way. While the singer is showing the counts of the beats of the tala in a certain measured metric method, it becomes a motor activity that slowly becomes independent of conscious thought and happens automatically.
This entire process unconsciously increases the bandwidth of the brain wherein the creativity happens on one side, the adherence to the grammar and sruthi happens on the other side, the motor activity of the tala keeps happening and the posture exudes confidence and clear thought. We may even call the entire process a ‘psychosomatic motor activity.'
Psychosomatic medicine is an interdisciplinary medical field studying the relationships of social, psychological and behavioural factors on bodily processes and well-being in humans and animals. Indian music is said to improve the intellectual capacity of children and increase their ability to multi-task efficiently.
Playing the Veena or any such instrument activates the tip of the fingers that indirectly activates the nerve endings that are acupressure points. So, apart from all the positive aspects mentioned earlier, playing a music instrument certainly gives a sense of achievement, relieves stress, disciplines, improves team work, communicates emotions and adds sheen to the entire personality.
With the Margazhi music festival rocking Chennai, it is perhaps a good time to cultivate or renew interest in the fine arts.
The author is a prominent Veena exponent. Website: http://www.veenaijayanthi.org.