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.



ajayh said...

dear shoba
i was glad to see a blog about carnatic music.well my name is ajayh i am from a place called rayadurg.i looking for a good sangeetham teacher in chennai.adn i need your help with that,i would not be staying in chennai bu i would travel,so kindly let me know anyprofessional teachers in place is alomst 400 kilometers away from cehnnai so i would be able to make 3's a month only.shoba i belive sangeetham is a path to walk to god it is a great divinity and i am looking for a guru who thinks the same way.cause if could get a guru with dedicates and sing i will surely touch the heart of my god by please give me datails of any sch kind of guru who cna teahc me sangeetham wioth lot of can contact me at i will be waiting for your message

satvik said...

Hi Shobna...
This is Ravi...deing fun of music..i want a Guru(teacher) who can mould me in carnatic music..i am badly searching for a teacher..i dedicate my full life to please send me details..
---Location:Any where in chennai
---Expiernce:learning carnatic for past four years(was learning from bombay sisiters deciple)
---Fees---2000 per momth
---i want individual training(one to one)
---please help me
--contact me in
---waiting for your reply

Shobha Janardanan said...

Hi Ajayh and Satvik,

Great to see your enthusiasm. Music is definately something that connects you to your soul.

My hope is that everyone who loves music should find the right teacher for himself/herself. But this is sometimes a task that a student can enthrust only himself /herself to pursue because of the unique qualities/ requirements of each student. At the same time, I believe that the right TYPE of assistance is more useful than just assisting for the sake of it. So read on and I hope you'll agree with my thoughts...

Here's something I've learnt - the more I know my family and friends' individual voices, musical tastes, temperaments, talents and propensity to work, the easier it has been to suggest teachers who are just right for them. And though I do reach out to respond to messages like yours in the interest of helping, I have sometimes found that the most useful assistance I can offer to those who I don't have a knowledge of, is to refer them to the sources of information that I myself have used in the past.

In response to both your cases (and that of other eager learners), pls refer to the Mudhra Music Directory. This is an annually updated listing of Carnatic Music teachers and musicians in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India. You can buy this directory for Rs.100+ at many chennai bookshops e.g. the Karnatic Music Book Centre, tel: 0091-44-28111716 or 28113253. Email is

The directory will help you by giving you the option to call and enquire directly with the musicians(s) of your choice, once you tell them a little about yourself -current level of exposure to music, classes per mnth you can attend, music goals, etc.

It will be very easy for someone who has NOT met you, to put you onto a teacher without hearing you, knowing your background, your goals within music etc, and make you feel like you're on the right path. But if it does not work out, you'll soon be re-starting with another teacher. Then you'll have to readjust your mindset, style etc all over again. This is a viscious cycle that only the student can break, through the knowledge he/she has of himself/herself.

If you still want the simpler route, i.e. for someone to recommend you a teacher, make sure the person knows your vocals, your goals (no matter big or small) etc well enough to be enthrusted with such an important job as finding you a teacher that connects you to your soul.

Here's to a life of music! God Bless.

thayapari said...

Hi shoba,
Im thaya really very interested to learn carnatic music..sangeetham..m frm Malaysia and staying in Bangsar..would like to know wic is the best place to learn sangeetham?? Thanks..:)


Pk Priya said...

Hi mam,

I am priya .Mother of Two kids. I am residing in t nagar (chennai).I want to put my kids in carnatic music .I need your guidance ..any teacher in and around west mambalam and T nagar .Please help me

mrinaleni said...

hi i am MRINALENI.....
i am doing my ug and i want to learn carnatic music...... i've already learnt carnatic music for three years .... but because of my studies i had to discontinue..... i am from a lower middle class family... i live in kodambakkam (chennai).i am a tamilian and a brahmin.. i want you to suggest me a good teacher... pls reply soon....

shankar vydian said...

Dear Mrinalini
I am taking music class at your doorstep. If interested me:my mob:9841882883

seoindia said...

Hi Mrinallini

i ilke your music classes.... best classed your
music classes in gurgaon

Sandhya Sundar said...

Hello shobana. I am 45 years old and i am looking for a guru for carnatic vocal. I am living in mylapore chennai. Kindly lead me to a right path. Thank you.