Music waiting to flow again through Swathi college corridors

Sreelakshmi Hariharan, a final-year Bachelor of Performing Arts (Vocal) student at Sri Swathi Thirunal College of Music, Thycaud, cannot wait for the college to reopen.

The Kozhikode resident was very keen on coming to the State capital and studying here, and so moved into a hostel near her college. Then COVID-19 changed life. Sreelakshmi was back at home and attending online classes.

Eighteen month later, she is excited at the prospect of going back to college. “Nothing comes close to the college ambience. All of us, singing and learning together, is very different from us attending the class sitting alone at home. The phone that was earlier used to stay in touch is now about Zoom and Google Meets. But the final two semesters are very critical, and direct learning will help.”

Vishnu K.A., a final-year postgraduate Mridangam student, cannot agree more. While online classes were a completely new experience for him, as a music student, the classroom experience is invaluable, he believes.

His teachers took a lot of pain to make sure that the three students in his batch got the maximum they could out of online classes. There was no compromise on individual practice. They even helped keep rhythm (thalam) without sound so that students could follow it smoothly. However, the online mode has its limitations, particularly for those learning to play instruments, says Vishnu. The flow of communication in a classroom is missing in the online mode. Peering at the small screen for long too can be a pain, he says.

Sreelakshmi too feels constraints in communication. In college, after learning three different kritis (compositions), students could still ask teachers to go back and run through them again. It was possible to meet them after classes till evening. However, with online classes it is not possible to call them up anytime. It helps that teachers ask students to send video recordings and correct them. But not every student does that. Some students also encounter connectivity issues, she says.

Sreelakshmi’s subsidiary subject is Veena, and it was hard picking it up initially without in-person instruction, she says. Vishnu too feels that physical learning will enhance students’ abilities.

Sreedev Rajagopal, Head of the Vocal Department in the college, says the biggest impact of online classes has been on students’ ability to keep rhythm (thalam). Owing to lag between audio and video during online classes, students are lagging on the thalam front. Group singing too is not possible. While classes are going on uninterrupted in online mode by externals factors such as hartals, Mr. Rajagopal has reservations if these are being fully absorbed by the students.

They also tend to tune in to YouTube for clearing doubts, thus picking up different versions, not always authoritative, and lose the style taught to them. The classes are also a strain on teachers who have to listen to video recordings of entire batches and correct them, he admits. The reopening will help students, particularly those who may not be at top of the class, he says.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 10:25:01 AM |

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