Saturday, 17 January 2009

The "Right Teacher"

Of late, many people seem to be wanting to pursue music seriously. Some of these enthusiastic individuals have contacted me in attempt to be placed with "the right" music teacher. Some of those asking are known to me and others are are strangers.

Below is my response to two enthusiastic individuals, Ajayh and Satvik, who I don't quite know, but who nonetheless have taken the initiative to seek help. I hope my blog entry reaches yet others like them who don't quite having a starting point, and are looking for the right teacher. I've not posted Ajayh's and Satvik's emails in this blog in the interest of keeping things short as possible, but the general theme of both emails was the interest in me placing them with /finding them the right teacher.


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 because of music's connection to the soul. Therefore finding a teacher, or better yet, a guru, is sometimes a task that a student can enthrust only himself /herself to pursue. Why? Because of the unique qualities/ requirements of each student.


I think the need to know the student before helping him/her has something to do with the fact that ours is an orally transmitted art and it does not easily flow from teacher to student if a connection does not exist between the two. I believe that the right TYPE of assistance is thus more useful than just answering to your questions, 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, understanding 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....chances are, again someone else would have chosen for you. 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 and his/her singing.

The aspect in which you'd find the best assistance is in the ability to teachers as every where in Chennai there are accomplished musicians and able teachers. The Music Directory will help you with the with a list complete with contact details. Then pursue a teacher who will fit the unique attributes that make you the vocalist that you are. This is tough if you're not sure of each artiste's style. However, there IS a solution - listen (to potential teachers' concerts), read newspaper reviews (Friday Review, Hindu for e.g.) and these can help you identify the better teachers for you.

If you still want the simpler route, i.e. for someone to recommend you a teacher, make sure the person knows your vocals, understands your uniqueness, goals etc, well enough, to be enthrusted with such an important job as finding you a teacher that connects you to your soul.

If there is something more I can help with or if something needs clarification, let me know.

I wish you well,

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