Academics in the morning, concerts in the evening

Meera Srinivasan

It's no great deal for budding artists like Abishek and Charumathi

CHENNAI: Last week, while most students were busy writing their semester examinations, one small group sat for their exams in the morning and rushed back home to get ready for their concert in the evening.

It should be quite difficult to manage academics and a career in music, one would think, but many of them say it is actually not. "The mental make-up is the same for both. Mathematics and music have a lot in common, in terms of approach," says Abishek Raghuram, a B.Sc Mathematics student.

Abishek, a final year student, is also one of the upcoming artists in Carnatic music. A vocalist, who also plays the kanjira, Abishek is known for his prowess in 'laya'.

"Whether it's a 'ragam' or real analysis, 'swaram', 'gamakam' or group theory I find it all equally interesting and fascinating. As I belong to a family of musicians, music is always on my mind, even while attempting a math problem," he says. Abishek is the grandson of veteran mridangist Palghat Raghu. Charumathi Raghuraman, pursuing her bachelor's degree in Information Systems Management is a promising violinist.

She has played the instrument for several senior artists. Charumathi says that choosing an artist-friendly college helped her balance academics and music.

Parents play an important role in helping Charumathi manage her schedule.

Planning is key

For Abishek, planning seems to be the key. "It's about strategic division and effective management of time," he says.

However, Abishek doesn't have a rigid practice schedule. "It's very flexible. If I suddenly feel like singing while I'm studying, I'll immediately sit down and practice. It could be any time of the day."

What if, at some point, these students had to decide between one of the two?

Abishek says, " I don't have to think of that right now. At some point, it will be evident and we will automatically know," he smiles.

According to senior violinist and composer Sriram Parasuram, learning music is like learning any other language. "Indian music is very rich in conceptual matter. It develops various faculties of the brain - memory, analytical skills, comprehension, and various other skills that are integral to the learning process," he says. Parasuram is an engineer who went on to do his MBA at IIM-Calcutta. He later did his master's in western classical violin and a Ph.d in world music.

"I attribute my excellence in education to the development music offers to the brain and soul. Music and education are certainly complimentary,' he says.

"After a point, one has to make a choice. I made that choice during the final year of my MBA. I was lucky to have experienced hostel life, the company of friends and campus life, which are all enriching in different ways. After all, education is something that goes much beyond serving a professional need," he says.

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