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Introducing young minds to the world of music early on

Shyama Panikkar during a session of Sur Taal Aur Masti

Shyama Panikkar during a session of Sur Taal Aur Masti   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Music lover Shyama Panikkar believes it is best to "catch them young" when it comes to training children in music. So to initiate children into the world of music, Mumbai-based Shyama, who is trained in both Carnatic and Hindustani music, started classes under the name Sur Taal Aur Masti (literally meaning Swara, tempo and fun) in July last year. "I endeavour to try and make the lessons fun, which catches their attention. Here, traditional methods may not be enough," says Shyama, a native of Thiruvananthapuram.

Shyama decided to launch Sur Taal Aur Masti after she realised that her son, Aarav, who is now four, was enjoying her lessons. "I quit my corporate job after I became pregnant. Later, when I realised Aarav was really liking it when I introduced him to music lessons, I asked myself why shouldn't I take this to other kids in Mumbai as well," she says.

Keeping the lessons experiential, Shyama brings what she calls "props" to engage kids and explain to them the versatility of music. "I demonstrate miniature versions of instruments such as shakers, drum kits, cymbals, maracas, tambourine and so on to help the young ones get a hands-on feel," she says.

Shyama Panikkar teaching kids music

Shyama Panikkar teaching kids music   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Shyama feels that Indian music is often under-appreciated at the level of early exposure as kids mostly are introduced to Western nursery rhymes and children's songs. So, in Sur Taal Aur Masti, she has made it a point to help kids understand and appreciate Indian music to begin with.

"I keep the musicscape varied and explore facets of India music as well. But it is not just classical music I'm talking about. Apart from beginner's-level lessons in Carnatic and Hindustani, we try rhymes and even catchy film songs. Rhymes could be anything from 'Wheels on the Bus' to popular Hindi children's songs like 'Lakdi ki kathi'. However, the base of my classes remain classical," explains Shyama. However, she keeps it simple, trying some of the easier classical compositions that "kids can remember." Her mentor is composer and Carnatic musician Perumbavoor G Raveendranath from Thiruvananthapuram.

Shyama Panikkar teaching kids music

Shyama Panikkar teaching kids music   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The pandemic has paused the physical classes, but Shyama has not permitted the impediment to let the music fall silent as she has been continuing her lessons online via video-conferencing app Zoom. "The arrangement has its limitations but given the circumstances, this is a practical way to carry on," she says. With schools remaining closed and playing outdoors not advisable, parents too are happy about keeping kids engaged constructively.

Check out Shyama's Instagram page @surtaalmasti

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 11:47:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/introducing-young-minds-to-the-world-of-music-early-on/article32182409.ece

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