Between me and Poonam ji, we have been talking about music in education for over five years, from the time I founded the Hansadhwani foundation. At that time I lived in Faridabad and it seemed very taxing to come to Delhi University and teach anyone. Perhaps my own expertise in music seemed so far apart from the rudimentary level one would have to teach beginners, it proved an additional deterrent. I was of course keen even then, but health did not permit me to drive down nearly 50 kilometers and then teach and return home.
Life of course does not offer easy solutions at any stage so once I decided to bite the bullet, the home had shifted to Goa! Now how much more easier would that be than Faridabad? I suppose we do not do things unless pushed to the limits of our means, the same manner students in India do not study till the exam is just round the corner, which is not a good model for sustaining any knowledge.
Anyhow, since Poonam-ji had called me a few months ago on the phone, and we were also recently in touch for some other reason, I thought it would be proper that I should inform her that I would be in Delhi and possibly she wanted me to do something for her. When I sent her the message, she put in touch with me Monica Gupta, who is also an educational psychologist, teaching in the education department of Gargi College. Thereafter, between me and Monica, we worked out a mechanism of offering this music in education as a training to students in eight colleges of Delhi University, which are running the bachelor of elementary education program, called the B.El. Ed. I am sharing this background with students who are part of this, so that they know that what we are doing together has a history and the efforts of many people involved and being the first group of learners, it is in their hands now, how the whole program is sustained and carried forward in the months and years ahead.
We cannot afford in music any attitude of postponing till the last minute, because it does not work that way. If I hear you singing once at any time, it immediately tells me whether you have been working on your music or not. So this is what we all have to guard against, or else the initial enthusiasm of all of us would start waning after the first set of workshops itself. Girls I hope you are listening- I need to be as enthused as you. My enthusiasm is a mathematical function of your inputs and efforts now. I am writing this as an introduction to all that I write below, to illustrate that though this can work at some levels, sporadic, exam-oriented work cannot be effective at the level of the arts. Certainly not music among them, even if it may work in crafts or colouring based media.
In the span of time that has elapsed from the first time we spoke about it, so much has changed personally and professionally. So now, all this work is not being done as part of the Hansadhwani Foundation any longer but towards the new entity, which is currently being formulated in the area of applied musicology, a part of Hamsadhwani Enterprises.
At Hamsadhwani, we have come to a point where we are going to work in training of future teachers with ideas from actual classical music, to give them skills that they can use music as tools for pedagogy in their own teaching later on. It is a complex thing to say the least, because music is NOT the goal of this process, but a form of learning. And yet for any new set of ideas to go into the learner one would expect a certain, concerted, regular engagement with the ideas over and over again, so that they become fluid in one’s mind.
This is the beginning, personally of the second arm of my work in applied musicology. The first of course is research in music therapy, which has been ongoing for the last decade and a half nearly, with advocacy, workshops, lectures done in myriad clinical -teaching and service organizations. This brings me to Music in Education as opposed to Music as education.
Here is the first set of workshops done in Delhi, RRCEE-(an acronym for Regional Resource Center for Elementary Education) an educational organization that works in primary education, where students from seven colleges, all within the Delhi University, were invited to participate. I am just trying to capture the moment before it is lost, via photographs and inviting all concerned people- students, teachers and the team at RRCEE to leave their impressions, observations, thoughts, ideas, criticisms and reflections about the workshops as we all experienced them. I want everything to be visible to everyone, to read and think about.
This is the space for students, who participated in the workshops to think aloud in, so that all may see what their friends are thinking, about our collective experiences- which have been in many a musical domain…from learning musical notes, to understanding the taal of classical music with particular reference to one taal- the 16-matra,, teen taal, musical notation, khyal, Raga Bhairav, riyaaz and so forth.
I am especially grateful to the girls who come from different musical traditions, of Carnatic and Western orientation, to attempt to fit in. Rest assured, I will extend the best possible help I can.