Keyed with music

Classical Pianist Anil Srinivasan Photo: K. Ananthan

Classical Pianist Anil Srinivasan Photo: K. Ananthan   | Photo Credit: K_Ananthan

Whether you are singing or listening, learning, teaching or performing, the impact of music is vast. Well known classical pianist Anil Srinivasan knows it well and is using music to help children learn different subjects in school.

In five years, his Rhapsody Music Education has reached out to 2,16,000 students -- in 160 schools across Tamil Nadu -- who are successfully using music as a tool to learn various concepts and enhance the skills they use and need on a day-to-day basis.

“Every school curriculum has a PT class but not every child attending it becomes a sportsperson,” points out Anil. “Then why does music alone have a performance expectation? Why is it treated as a hobby and pushed to a free period or an annual day item in school?” he asks.

A function in a Tiruvarur school in 2012 set him thinking when he asked the students about the trinity of Carnatic music. The reply he got was “Namrata, Nayanthara and Shriya!”

He did not waste time to work on a robust and well-rounded education that supports and includes music as part of the regular curriculum. Along with choral music expert, Dr.Sudha Raja, he formulated a 10 year module with 450 multi-disciplinary, multi-modal, multi-genre lessons to be taught from LKG to class VIII and convinced school administrations and principals of the intrinsic benefits of music to the students.

The ‘education through music’ is a work in progress in schools in Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Trichy, Hosur, Namakkal, Tiruchengode, Rasipuram, Salem, Madurai and Kumbakonam. It is also being implemented in a few schools in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Puducherry, Pune and Mumbai.

Anil entered Madurai with a dozen city schools adopting the ‘education through music’ programme last year. “The successful implementation shows in the fact that the students came up with the idea of an inter-school music festival to showcase what they learnt during the year,” he says.

From 9 in the morning to the next eight hours, students from 14 city schools raided the newly constructed Dr.Radha Thiagarajan auditorium inside the Thiagaraja Arts and Science College campus. As much as it was about the performance of the tiny tots to the pre-teens, it was equally about their confidence levels in understanding the power of music and giving variations to songs as an exercise in joy.

The participants were asked to give five to six minutes musical presentation based on themes like city, country and environment. They were free to choose any known or popular song or write their own lyrics, tweak the music or compose their own, play any number of accompanying instruments, plan the costume. The outcome overwhelmed Anil and his team. “We have taken our programme to nearly 20 cities but Madurai is the first place where students came forward to showcase their skills in the form of a competition,” he says.

Adhyapana School walked away with the first prize but the rankings are not so important, says Anil, because the idea is to initiate the children into team work, cooperation, discipline and hard work in a fun way instead of burdening them with the usual fear of doing something to meet the expectations of their teachers and parents.

Playback singer Saindhavi Prakash presence was a value addition for the children as they learnt a bit more about music from her chiselled rendition of a divine Krishna song. Giving away the prizes, the Executive Director of Thiagarajar Mills, Hari Thiagarajan, did not forget to mention that while performing artists get involved in their own progress, Anil is dedicated to channelising youngsters into not only enjoying music as a recreation but also see value in it.

“Music enhances the way people think and express themselves,” says Anil, “and our idea is to create a culture for culture.”

Anil creates a harmony and curiosity simultaneously to present his ideas and rhapsody in a light persuasive manner. He has also trained 77 teachers who now fan out to schools taking music to classrooms. “We have developed a set of rhythmic patterns that help children understand fraction or a song that teaches them about photosynthesis. They sing the song while gardening to learn how chlorophyll is made and they are unlikely to forget lessons taught in this manner,” says Anil. With 10,000 students already enrolled in the city, he aims at covering at least 100,000 students in and around the temple town soon.

“When children learn concepts in the form of songs or music, they engage and internalise better,” he says and adds, “music is an innovative and scientific way to unlock imagination and make every learning from science to maths to arts meaningful.”

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 11:31:57 AM |

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