Carnatic Calling

Published - August 21, 2014 04:00 pm IST

Ring,” cries the phone. “Time to sing!” I think. Every Thursday, this is how I attend Carnatic music class. Not a single mile driven or a single camera set up. Of the five weekdays, Thursday is the most calming. Off I go, exploring the richness, expression, and beauty of ragas. Love. Fury. Pathos. Delight. All these feelings come alive. I see them in my mind. I hear them in the ragas. I can feel the power of the art flowing from my heart.

When I was younger, my thoughts gravitated towards the melody, also called raga. For two years, I learned Carnatic music at Swaralayam Arts Forum in Houston. A few years later, my family and I moved to Dubuque, Iowa. Music classes came to an upsetting halt. However, I was overjoyed because my mother found a teacher who could teach me over the phone. Four years sped by, and I felt the transformation.

People often ask me “Isn’t it difficult to learn over the phone?” Well, it has its benefits. When my teacher travels around the world to perform, my classes continue, uninterrupted. As I am unable to see my teacher face-to-face, I have to improve my concentration. Perhaps, the only thing I miss is having peers whom I can enjoy music with. My favourite part about coming to India is being able to share my knowledge of Carnatic music with others. Each composition narrates a carefully composed story with a fitting raga, thalam (beat), and lyrics in various Indian languages. Passion is the ability to offer the art from the heart. Through passion, I feel I can make the music come alive.

SIBANI RAM , VIII, George Washington Middle School, Dubuque, United States

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