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Article: Music, Tradition and the Internet - Part V - A student's perspective

By Shankar Anant

In the earlier parts of this series published in 2005, many details were provided about the growing interest in learning music, especially, Indian Classical Music through the medium of the internet. Some of the advantages and limitations of this nascent method of imparting music education were covered in those articles.

The author of this article has been an "internet" music student for three years and would like to share some perspective resulting from his experience. The quality of sound over the internet telephone has been very good to excellent. A good broadband connection and a good quality headset (microphone / headphones) are necessary. Calls are likely to drop if the connection is not strong.

While it is possible to learn music over regular telephones, the PC / Notebook computer has clear advantages. The growing support resources / applications available make it very attractive. Besides multiple Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) options, software is available for Tabla, Tanpura, Keyboard, Metronome etc. Websites for lyrics, sound clips etc are ubiquitous. Recording and even mixing music is possible. "Catching" embellishments like Meend, Gamak, Andolan, Murki etc., typical of Indian classical music is possible. Technology is usually not the limitation in "catching" everything the Guru is trying to impart. In fact, with the headset it is possible to keep all distractions away. Focused listening is all that is required of the student. When mistakes are made, they are caught and corrected immediately by the Guru. Of course, revision and practice after class will be necessary.

The ability to record the interactive learning session is very helpful in practicing what was taught. After all, skill development in Indian classical music (as with other skills) is a matter of faithful repetition of the lessons. While there is useful information on the internet, some of it is overdone, especially, extensive discussions, descriptions and analysis of music. It is best to avoid these. Indian classical music is best enjoyed as an intuitive, aesthetic medium. In the long history of Indian Classical Music in the Guru-Sishya (student) tradition, intellectualization was seldom done or encouraged.

With the Guru and Sishya being able to schedule the lessons at a mutually convenient time, virtually from anywhere in the world, this is by far the main advantage of internet learning. The duration of the class is the only time commitment required. Needless to add, practice (Riyaz) time between classes is a must. This is not different from traditional face-to-face learning.

The pioneering work done by a Guru such as Pt Haresh Bakshi, the creator of in nurturing the glorious tradition of Indian Classical Music over the new medium of the internet, without compromising on the age old Guru-Sishya tradition needs to be recognized. Without this none of the above is possible.



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