Music

Kochi couple teaches Carnatic music online

Employment opportunities, in music, for those with college degrees in music are limited - it is either a shot at PSC exams or teaching music; it is not viable in the job market. A break as a singer is as elusive, Devki Nandakumar and Sudheesh Kumar, both post-graduates in music, bucked the trend, in 2015, when they went online with their music classes.

Through their website, musicshikshan.com, they conduct Carnatic music classes in the virtual space. Their students login from West Asia, the United States, UK, India and Jordan . The weekly classes are conducted from home, via Skype and other phone apps.

The couple, originally from Kozhikode, didn’t set out to teach music online. Their first class happened by chance in 2013. One of their students, the son of US-based acquaintances, needed music lessons while on vacation in Kozhikode. “When he returned to the US, his parents wanted us to continue teaching him. We started teaching via Skype,” says Devki. Realising that this was a ‘workable’ model, they made an announcement on their Facebook page, offering online classes and found students.

By 2015, they gave their classes the current shape and relocated to Kochi in 2017. Musicians such as Shankar Mahadevan, and MG Sreekumar in Kerala, already have online music classes. However, unlike these, Devki and Sudheesh don’t have teachers working for them.

The day starts early for the couple since their students span varying time zones. “It is better to be ready a few minutes early so that the students know that we are ready. The kids, and their parents, work on tight schedules a delay of five or 10 minutes upsets their entire routine,” says Sudheesh. The 45-minute classes start as early as 5 am (IST) andthe evening classes go on till 11 pm. They conduct around 50-60 classes weekly, taking turns with household chores.

Their workspace is a room in their apartment, which also doubles up as recording room. It is equipped with a desktop and a laptop, fitted with extra cameras for clarity. The most vital thing they need is undisturbed internet connection. They’ve had offers to teach full classes online which they refused. “It is unfair on the students – we cannot see all of them or pay attention to each. We prefer one on one classes,” says Devki.

Their students range from 5 years old to those in their 60s, “Some of the older people want to keep the lessons private, they are embarrassed about attending regular music classes. This way they can indulge an interest they probably never had a chance to nourish.” Devki teaches the girls and Sudheesh the boys, “older boys require a different shruti than girls,” Sudheesh says. The schedules are planned in advance, messages are sent each Sunday.

The couple sees more advantages than disadvantages, the biggest is that they get to set the pace, there is no pressure, and they can work from home. Although the classes are online, they have some of their online students drop in for classes while on vacation. Sudheesh, is a professional singer; he and Devki also perform at music programmes. The couple gets enquiries from their classmates about how to start online classes. “We have no qualms helping.Those who have studied music get more options and a chance to grow.”

The couple has many plans but one that they look forward to implementing is teaching talented students who may not be able to afford music classes. “We want to create a software, and maybe hire teachers, to teach not only vocal, but also instrumental. We are working on a library of recorded, basic exercises of music - varnas and kritis - videos that can be downloaded for free by students,” says Devki


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 2:54:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/devki-nandakumar-and-sudheesh-kumar-teach-carnatic-music-online/article28756514.ece

Next Story