Pianist Anil Srinivasan’s ‘Rhapsody — Education Through Music’ aims to make learning fun with music

Chennai-based pianist Anil Srinivasan, over the years, has often wondered what he can do with his Management education, for, his heart lies in music. Two years ago, the artiste says, he discovered exactly what to do with it. Thanks to his efforts, today, over 50,000 children across 50 schools in the city, on a daily basis, discover that learning, with a little help from music, need not be taxing. But it hasn’t been an easy task convincing parents and even some students about the efficacy of his methodology. “‘My child already goes to paatu class. What’s new with your classes?’ This was a common question initially,” Anil says. He explained to them that what he wanted to introduce was not a music class but a session that would help children learn through music and make them music literate. “This is not about gifted children. They learn music wherever they can. This is about all children becoming musically literate, and there is no doubt that music enhances our quality of life,” he explains.

Rhapsody is an elaborate project. Classes are on through the week on a daily-basis across schools. This involves a lot of planning, and Anil has designed the core syllabus of the project with singer Sudha Raja, and has put together an administrative team that manages the activities.

“We are looking at this as education through music for children aged between three and 10. Music helps them understand teamwork, empathy, co-ordination, and can turn children into better individuals,” says Anil, whose programme is now part of private as well as public schools with more schools expected to join soon. Several musicians such as Vedanth Baradwaj teach these children, and they have added colour to the programme’s syllabus by bringing their own music and eclecticism to it. “Instead of sitting in our auditoriums and expecting people to come, we must take our art and place it in the service of the community,” he muses.

Making it simple

A typical Rhapsody session seeks to infuse fun into education. For instance, children learn complex mathematical concepts with the help of music. Or, they could create what Anil calls a human piano. “Each child represents a note, and when a teacher points to each of them, he or she sings the note out loud. The teacher creates a tune with the children,” he explains. A lot of schools that are resource-strained are looking at this programme with gratitude. “It is designed like a social enterprise, wherein the amount that comes in goes only to pay the teachers. This way, it is self-sustaining. Our work with children from schools such as Disha (Ma Foi Academy’s school for underprivileged children) are also pro bono.”

Rhapsody is also gearing up to work with special students of V Excel. “A lot of fresh graduates from BA and MA Music are joining us as teachers, and now schools are asking us to extend this programme up to Class X,” he says. “As an artiste, after thinking about ‘What I want’ I have moved on to ‘What I can offer’, and that’s a very happy place to be in.”