Dr. Sangeeta Shankar

Education - Vidya - has always been the most important factor of our Indian culture. It is education that raises a person to perfection and the lack of it can ruin a person. Vidya covers a wide range in India – beginning alphabets to the knowledge of the Supreme.

When we look at it in the musical context, the subject has always branded down by the oral tradition - from guru to shishya, with the help of some written mate rial. And this infallible system continues till today and will always be the basic and best method of teaching forever.

However with the changing times and new inventions, there are many other things developed which greatly aid our fundamental method. I feel that we must always keep our eyes and ears open to any invention that can enhance the teaching and learning process. The invention of the tape recorder and tapes for instance. One can save time (which is a rare commodity) and listen to our recorded classes again and again for quicker and better learning. Similarly, the invention of the electronic tanpura and tabla are again conveniences, which we couldn’t think of in the earlier generation. These inventions are already widely accepted by the society today. There has to be encouragement for more such creative inventions, which would be of immense help for students and teachers of music.

Similarly we have a major responsibility to educate the mass public about our music. Today’s scenario is that our children are imbibing more of western culture and forgetting our culture and music. In the olden days, the days of the rajas, there were very few forms of entertainment – music and dramas were the main. And whenever there was a concert in the Raja’s court – everybody knew. They knew about the artist, a little about the music and there always was a great awe and admiration and respect about our music and musicians. With the departure of courts and states, the senario changed. Slowly many forms of entertainment came into being and today the society is filled with varieties like cinemas, TV soaps, Internet and many other distractions. This resulted in our children having less time and even lesser opportunity to associate with Indian music and culture. On the other hand they absorb all the things they see on the television. Children are like blotting paper. They absorb whatever they hear.

It is high time we educate them about music. If we don't educate our children. Who else will? We don't say that they should become Tansen or Thyagaraja, but they must be educated enough to at least appreciate and respect our music and be proud of our musical wealth. Today's medium of education has changed. Today s medium is the screen - the film screen, the TV screen or the computer screen. So we have to adapt to today's accepted method - and educate our children about our glorious traditions. If we do this today - in future we can be sure of the existence of a society, which is culturally and musically alive and educated.

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