Saturday, 8 November 2008

Query on Carnatic Music Classes in Chennai

Today I received an email enquiring about carnatic music in Chennai. I felt that the person who sent me this email had asked a question many people would want to know the answer to. I've posted his query (altering personal details to respect the writer's privacy), so that others too can benefit from our dialogue.

Email Received:

"Hi Shobha,

This is Navin. I am currently working in ABC Co., Chennai. I have had this passion to learn carnatic music for a long time and presently I am looking for a tutor who can help me out in this. Just googled carnatic music in chennai and came across ur blog. Really heartening to see that ur learning carnatic music. Any suggestions/thoughts on whom to approach for starting this dream of mine come true. I do not want to postpone this later as I have been doing that for quite some years. Nothing is too late for learning as the saying goes.

Thanks and Regards "

Response to Navin:

"Hi Navin,

Good to see any music enthusiast. I'm glad my blog has inspired you and may you keep aspiring.

You are in Chennai, and so, finding a teacher will not be a problem at all. Finding a suitable teacher, will. Teachers are generally concentrated in (what locals have told me are) the traditionally-Brahmin areas of Chennai such as Mylapore, Mandaveli, RA Puram, Adyar, Tiruvanmiyur and Besant Nagar. So, if you live/work in any of these areas, I can suggest teachers' names almost immediately. Better to take someone close to work/home so that it is less tedious for you to get to class before/after work.

If however you live/work in Anna Nagar or West Mambalam etc, I will have to extend my search and that will take some time. Also, did you grow up in Chennai? Elsewhere in India? Out of India? These points also matter in selecting a teacher, as culture and mindset come into play. Are you already initiated in Carnatic Music? Are you a beginner? That should aslo be factored into finding a teacher. It is never a simple task finding a suitable teacher, so have patience with yourself, the art and your teacher's methods of training.

While I commend you for taking immediate action, I must also remind you that if you're embarking on music as a career eventually, you have to be very conscious of the decision you're making . This is because learning carnatic music means complete "shraddha", which means ABC Co. may have to take a back seat. Of course, that advice is only if you're palnning to move into it full time. If you wish to straddle between ABC Co. and Carnatic music, your progress in both lines will be slower, but your income will provide you the financial security you (may) need to sustain your music classes.

Having read the above, here's what you have to let me know if you want a teacher:
  1. What location do you want your teacher to be in?
  2. What is your level of training at present? (Sarali/Jantai, Varnam, RTP?)
  3. What culture do you come from? (Western? Indian? Are you Tamilian?)
  4. What is the fee you expect to pay your teacher per hour's class?
  5. Are you seeking individual/group training? (Latter is cheaper, though not always the best option )

I wish you the best.