How to Awaken Love and Interest in Classical Music

To awaken love and interest in classical music among classical music audience, we have to think of various strategies  The most crucial is perhaps that of exposing the school going children to the basics and rudimentary concepts and practices of Indian classical musical system. In childhood, the mind is highly impressionable.

The strategy should be to introduce some instructions in the school stage itself regarding classical music—the system and its rules. The students need not learn classical music as such. They should only be exposed to what classical music really is, how it is cultivated and how it is presented and how it can have diverse applications in other art forms like drama, dance, orchestration etc.

In other words, instructional courses of classical music which are not at all burdensome have to be introduced from the school stage. The idea is to awaken interest in classical music among students as audience of classical music. Apart from instructions, there should be simple lecture-demonstrations to educate the boys and girls in classical forms, the grammar, the rules, principles of rhythm etc. Lecture demonstrations should be followed by free open house discussions. Such free interaction will definitely arouse love for classical music amongst them. Some of them will feel induced to pursue traditional classical music further to satisfy their curiosity. We should not expect music performers to be produced out of this, but certainly we can look forward to a fairly representative group of young boys and girls who, at least, understand the basics or the essence of our musical system and can distinguish between the music belonging to the classical mainstream and music which is either off beat, or outlandish or purely adventurist. If this minimum understanding or sense of appreciation is created, we shall have immensely brightened the prospects and future of classical music.

This first step is to integrate such instructional courses into our school education through the active support of the School Boards and the State Governments. If history, literature, mathematics can be compulsorily taught why not some short elementary courses on classical musical system be also introduced? These courses would in proper time, also develop attitudes and aptitudes which will help both the cultivation and propagation of classical music. These instructional courses need not always be taught live but with the help of cassettes and video cassette recordings. It should be possible to produce such cassette /DVDs /instructional courses supported by musical cassette/cd pieces to illustrate the lessons.

At the University level, there would be scope to continue such instructions on optional basis and of course those having classical musical inclinations can easily opt for regular courses leading to degree/diploma in music.

The next target groups are the people who have got out of the university and have settled down in life following occupations of their choice. Many of them do love traditional indian music, buy records, go to concerts but their understanding is somewhat hazy just because they did not have the opportunity of being exposed to any form of classical music training. This group would need necessarily a different approach.

The approach hopefully could be through a judicious use of the media.

Some possible steps to awaken love and interest in classical music for this group of men and women may be

  1. The use of All India Radio and FM radios to put across short classical mucic pieces, both vocal and instrumental (specially recorded by artists of standing) through programmes like Sangit Santa, Sangit Parichaya, Subadha Sangit. These programmes should be beamed during peak and prime listening hours such as mornings, late evenings and nights.
  2. Radio can be used for short interviews and interes­ting illustrative demonstrations by good artists of classical music.
  3. Sale, at subsidized prices, of specially made short commercial cassettes of artists of standing in which the artists speak briefly about their tradition, and present familiar ragas through compositions.
  4. The natural interest for musical forms like Bhajans and geets should be exploited by setting their tunes on well known classical ragas with as little admitures as possible. Historically, raga music has derived great sustenance from Bhajans and devotional songs. There may be no objection while announcing any such programme or items either on the radio or at a concert to say that the piece to be presented is based on such ragas. Maximum use of this method can be made during radio listening hours particularly the mornings when the listeners are fresh and in a receptive mood.
  5. The greatest thrust can however come from Film Songs. We have known of film classics where songs set to classical ragas have been immortalized by Singers like K. L. Saigal, Surraiyya, and Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi and the legendary Lata Mungeshkar and other great singers. A special responsibility rests on Film Producers and Music Directors in the matter of reviving and sustaining interest in our classical music. Surely there can be a fair mixture of lighter songs with accent on catchy tunes/rhythm and songs with good classical base to convey the mood of different situations in any film. Without exception, all our eminent Music Directors have had training in classical music to start with. It is they who can compose tunes effectively and win the hearts of the listeners. This is an aspect which deserves attention of the Film Industry. So far as the ‘market’ for classical music is concerned, history has shown that it will certainly ‘bear’ it.

These then, are some thoughts on different ways in which appreciation of Indian classical music can be awakened and effectively sustained. The roots of a nation are its classics and we owe it to ourselves, to our cultural heritage and to the flowering generations of our youth who, like torch bearers, will carry our classical heritage into the future. Every artist is inwardly an optimist and so let us ends this essay on a note of optimism and hope.

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