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Every culture is blessed with its own rich and traditional forms of music that have evolved over the ages. Many of us aspire for our children to connect with this heritage and learn classical music in some form or the other. We brought some of the common questions that parents have regarding music education to the very well-known Carnatic music artistes, sisters – Kavita and Triveni Saralaya who teach at the Vijaya College of Music, in Bangalore, India. For those unacquainted with Indian music, Carnatic music is a highly-structured classical form practiced over centuries in South India.

What trends are you seeing in music education today?

Driven by the success of reality music shows, parents increasingly want their kids to learn music. There is awareness and recognition of the fact that a sound training through a pure classical form of music sets the base for success in other lighter forms of the art.

In addition, schools have also upped their focus on classical forms of music. Many schools now have clubs as well as competitions for both Western and Indian classical forms, and provide training focused on London/Trinity college exams. 

A third, interesting trend is that older people i.e parents of teenage kids or empty nesters are now going back to learn music either due to the fact that they’re looking for some stress busters or because they could not complete their training when they were young.

How does the child benefit from learning classical music?

The most tangible benefit for a child is the confidence that he/she can get from performing the art in front of others.

But apart from that, learning music helps develop concentration skills and develop longer attention spans. The child has to learn something as abstract as focusing on pitch (or ‘Shruthi’ in Carnatic music parlance) and the only way that skill can be mastered is by concentrating. 

In many forms of music, breathing is an essential element - so the child automatically gets some exposure to yoga and pranayama.

Classical music can have a calming influence on children and adults alike. So one could say, teaching music contributes to the holistic development of a child.

What can parents/teachers do to generate interest in classical music?

It’s hard to force kids to learn an art if they are not interested. That being said, parents should anticipate some initial pushback given the abstract nature of the art. Parents should work with their child and coax them for initial lessons rather than give up at the first sign of resistance. Very often we meet adults who tell us that they really regret not pursuing music when they were young.

Playing music in the car, at home, taking the child to recitals all help increase exposure and interest in the art.

Parents should realize that not all children need to become performers and just learning the art has its own benefits as explained earlier.

From a teacher’s standpoint, what we do in the initial stages is to also teach the child a small piece of music like a bhajan (devotional song) that they can perform in school or other events. That way, the child doesn’t feel that he/she needs to wait a long time before they’re able to showcase their art.

What is the right age to start learning classical music?

We think 7 years is the right age for learning vocal or instrumental music.  While there may be exceptions where kids are very interested or show great talent, in general they need to be able to get the hang of notes which they will find difficult if too young.

What should parents look for when trying to find a classical music teacher for their child?

Passion for music is obviously very important and a teacher who shows passion for the art can generate interest in the child. Also, in the initial stages to the extent possible, parents should aim for one-on-one lessons at least when a piece is first taught. Group lessons can be leveraged for practicing what has already been taught.

What is unique about your institution – the Vijaya College of Music?

The institution has been in existence for over 50 years and has taught many artists all over.  All through, teachers have recognized that people learning music may have other pursuits and professions and has encouraged students to be proficient in music while pursuing parallel professions.

Thank you Kavitha and Triveni Saralaya.

Schools 'N More's Online Resources section feature several Music-learning websites and mobile apps that you can visit to supplement your child’s musical education.

Have views to share on this topic? Use our comments section!

The Vijaya College of Music is located at Jayanagar, Bangalore and offers in-person as well as internet based lessons. For further details visit: http://vijayacollegemusic.tripod.com/

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