Friday, October 1, 2010

The 21st Century Gurukul

For a long time Indian classical music passed from generation to generation in the Gurukul - a broad term for a residential school of music, mostly the house of the Guru.
The teacher or the the Guru choose his/ her students and took care of them in all respects, while imparting them the training. The disciples devoted their entire time to their Gurus accepting every instruction unconditionally.
Life in India has changed and so has the Gurukul. Visionary maestros like Pt. Deodhar successfully created a syllabus that can be taken by music students as the beginning of learning music. A system of evaluation and certification also arose and became popular.

Today, a young and hopeful music student can enroll into a reputed music teaching institute and get the initial training till she reaches a reasonable level. Then, she begins advanced training, probably under various Gurus to prepare for big performances. The training that was open to only a few determined people is now open to all, which is a big change.
One aspect that has not changed at all, however, is the role that the Guru plays. The Gurus no longer run Ashrams for their students, but they impart the same passion for classical music to their students that their ancient predecessors did.
Reshma Karmarkar Godbole


Mumbai-based Reshma Karmarkar Godbole has a long experience of preparing students in classical vocal. "I give my students the same love and attention that I received from my Gurus." Her Gurus, Mr and Mrs. Jail, gave her not only a theory training in music but an underlying zeal to carry the tradition of the Gurus. She decided to devote her life to teaching music, rather than pursuing performances.

"Not every student can last the long journey that classical training needs" Reshmaji shares her experience. As she has seen, many performing artists are forced to abandon the training owing to family, career or studies. Many students stop their training during academic years like S.S.C. Reshmaji feels that this is not necessary.

"One needs to devote at least half an hour daily to their practice" she says. In fact, her student Radhika Nanday says that she didnot stop her Riyaaz during her S.S.C. "I used to feel fresh for my studies after my daily Riyaaz" Radhika says. Radhika drew the audience attention during the Zee Marathi SaReGaMaPa Little Champs music contest. She also passed her S.S.C exam with flying colours, securing about 90%.


Many music students fail to continue their journey, however, retain their love and respect for their Guru for life. Many of Reshmaji's old students reside abroad, but they pay her a visit whenever they come to India. Through these students, the Gurus spread the love for classical music everywhere in the world.

The best Gurus do not force any particular style on their students. "Reshmatai never did any spoon-feeding" says Mrs. Desai, another student of Reshmaji. "She encourages me to develop the raaga the way I like, after she has given me her own redition." adds Mrs. Desai. She took a long break in her music training as she had to take care of her family. She is now devoting herself again to music, now that the family burden has reduced. Reshmaji's modern Gurukul has a place for her and many others who share the passion of classical music.

The methods have changed, but not the spirit. The Gurus of classical music are still devoted to their one zeal in life - spreading the word of Indian classical music far and wide. The music institute run by Reshma Karmarkar Godbole is a live example of these 21st century Gurukuls.


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  2. Zenia I think you'll find your answer here.

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