NalandaWay works with close to 8,700 children in 21 locations across Tamil Nadu. It conducts regular training, workshops and camps for children from economically weaker sections of society, have been victims of some form of abuse, or have special needs.

“We once worked with a juvenile delinquent in Thanjavur who had killed his father because of continuous abuse. We introduced him to folk music and taught him to play the mridangam, and over time, the transformation was phenomenal,” said Sriram V. Ayer, Founder of NalandaWay Foundation. “The boy said that his body had started listening to his mind,” he added, talking about the rehabilitative effect of music.

As part of their project to take music, arts and theatre to children from weaker sections of society, NalandaWay launched the Chennai music library at Goethe Institut on World Music Day. A joint effort by Sriram and classical pianist Anil Srinivasan, the music library compiles videos of concerts that have taken place in the city in Alliance Francaise, Goethe Intitut, InKo Centre, British Council, Consulate-General of the United States of America and Kalakendra.com over the last year. These have been put up on, so that it may be used as resource and teaching aid for trainers, and through them, students.

Believing that music education should not be a privilege, Anil said that most concerts in the city happen after seven in the evening, and the audience mostly comprises connoisseurs. “We have close to 30 videos on the website and we hope to keep adding to it. Below every video we have information about the instruments that have been used, and the style of music among other things in both English and Tamil so that it serves as a resource material for the trainers and children,” he said.

NalandaWay which currently works with close to 8,700 children in 21 locations across Tamil Nadu, conducts regular training, workshops and camps for children aged between eight and seventeen, who are from economically weaker sections of society, have been victims of some form of abuse, or have special needs. “We are currently working with eight schools in the city, and are looking to work in a larger way with schools run by the Chennai Corporation,” said Sriram.

At the concert held on the occasion for 50 children of classes seven and eight of the Chennai Middle School from Aminjikarai, it was evident how music is the purest form of art. “Do you know how this piano works,” Anil asked the children, and within a few seconds, they all sprang up and mobbed the piano to understand its workings. The engaging concert started with classical pianist Anil and guitarist and singer Vedanth Bharadwaj rendering Ennama tozhi, and soon the children learnt the song and sang along. The genial duo performed songs such Naiharwa by Kabir and Chittiram pesutadi interspersing it with anecdotes and stories. As the children walked out in a single file after the concert, the songs still lingered on, with some children still singing the songs under their breath.

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