Friday, October 1, 2010

Teaching classical music in the age of reality shows

Reshma Godbole with her students
The rising wave of reality shows has inundated the quiet shores of Indian performing arts. The enchanting mix of songs, music, dance, lovable contestants, emotional parents, colourful judges and celebrities has got the Indian viewer glued to their LCD screen. This has proved to be a singular opportunity for the talented singers, musicians and such performers who can reach millions in a moment and create an impression with their talent and personality.


Many feel, though, that this has somewhere shifted the attention of the Indian art student from the long climb that artistic achievement once was, to an instant flight to fame.  "I nowadays get many students, asking me the 'course duration' for classical vocal", says an amused Reshmaji, who has guided a number of students in classical vocal, for the past 15 years.
"I take my inspiration from my Gurus, for whom classical music was their whole life" Reshmaji says with respect. She was inspired to keep Hindustani Classical Music alive in the society by the passion of her Guru - Mr. and Mrs. Jail. She now continues to inspire her students with the same passion.


But will this long and honoured tradition survive in an age when the young artists are seeking rapid success. A talk with two of Reshmaji's students give a glimmer of hope. Radhika Nande and Sumedha Karmahe - both have seen the world of reality shows from a close distance. Radhika became a favourite of the television viewers during the 'SaReGaMaPa Little Champs' show on Zee Marathi, which reached a cult popularity when it was on air. Sumedha [nicknamed "Chhattisgarh ki Barbie doll" in the show] claimed her rightful fame as a finalist on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007.

The experience in SaReGaMaPa Little Champs convinced Radhika even more about the significance of a a classical training. "Though she has been learning with me for a long time, the challenge and competition of SaReGaMaPa Little Champs made her focus intensely on her training" Reshmaji remembers. Radhika now devotes long hours everyday to learn the finer aspects of hindustani vocal.

Sumedha has won the accolades on her natural talent and started training on classical vocal after the participation in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007.. In fact, she is studying for a graduation in music from Mumbai University, along with her training under Mrs. Reshma Karmarkar Godbole. "It is because of Reshmaji that  I am progressing on this wonderful path" says Sumedha. Like so many others, she has experienced that being blessed with the right Guru is the first step towards a long journey in classical music.

Meeting Reshmaji and her talented disciples was an unforgettable experience. One feels the warm glow of confidence that the future fo the illustrious tradition of classical music is secure and bright in the hands of dedicated teachers like Reshmaji. the waves of reality shows will bring more and more young talented  in the  classical field and this flame will burn, brighter than ever.

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