Dr. Shruti Jauhari

A rare blend of Performing Artist, Voice Coach, Historian, Author & Guru on Hindustani Classical Music. Highly Creative and Melodious due to which the Khayaal Gayaki & Thumri comes to her naturally.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Training takes the back seat

The below article was published by The Hindu dated 22' December 2011, linked below:
In their eagerness to perform, aspirants neglect the learning process.

In their eagerness to perform, aspirants neglect the learning process. Music is perhaps one of the most popular and widely practiced form of Fine Arts, transcending all kinds of cultural and linguistic barriers. Any form of fine art is difficult to master and almost impossible to perfect and music is no exception.

Nature, it is learnt, has blessed almost two thirds of the human race with musical ability of some sort. Music has the power to bring out the deepest emotions. It can make one cry or bring a smile on one's face. In fact it is a magic medicine and many seek refuge in it when they are depressed or stressed. It is this intimacy that makes us listen to music or even hum or sing sometimes. This singing, or realistically speaking, expressing one's emotion musically, sometimes takes a serious turn. This desire to showcase the musical expression in public domain then transforms into serious business - profession. And from here the musical journey begins...

This desire to sing before an audience is innocent and beautiful and indeed it is perfectly alright to have such a genuine desire. But it is also important to understand that singing is an intricate art - a highly refined one at that, which requires systematic, prolonged and rigorous training, even to pass muster. This is an aspect we forget in our keen desire to reach at the stage and perform. It is almost like preparing a formal meal for the specially invited guests, without even having learnt and experienced the basic aspects of cooking. This is why we have more noise and less music in the present.

These days almost everyone sings and it does not stop here. Most of us want to become professional singers. Result, a complete disregard for and ignorance of the training part, as the need is never felt to go through one and the urge to get to the stage and perform overpowers the slight inclination to learn, if any. If at all, somewhere along the way one feels the need to gain some knowledge and training, it leads to hurried shortcuts and half-hearted attempts, best described as “Crash Courses.”

It is observed that those who have attained the so-called partial success, suddenly feel that they lack the required knowledge and are not learned enough. But it is too late by then. It should be understood here that the stage or a performance brings in a different mindset within the artist. It is always recommended and rightly so, that while on stage, cover the mistakes and weaknesses if any, and get along. This is perfectly in order for a stage-performance, but the contrary is true when it comes to acquiring knowledge and during the learning process. While under training, the student is expected to make mistakes but then rectify those mistakes under the supervision and guidance of the teacher. Therefore it is good to make mistakes and then be corrected during the process of learning as this subsequently makes one flawless and educated. This is a different mindset. And these two mindsets discussed above, (those of a performer and that of a student) cannot get along together at the same time.

That is to say that one cannot be a student and a performer simultaneously in the true sense. Of course, this art is so vast and deep that there is no end to learning and to be able to master it, a lifetime of learning also falls short. What is implied here is that it is important to acquire the basic and intermediate levels of music education and only then as a senior student, attempt could then be made to perform on stage. From here on, slowly but steadily, stage should be the focus and hence the new journey towards the knowledge of experience with every performance.

So basically, training in music could be simplified in these following steps:

  • Basic and Intermediate levels of training: formal music training
  • Advance level Training: along with small attempts to perform
  • Training through stage and experience: performances 

Looking to the current situation of music, it is important to understand this fact.

Parents, teachers and even the serious and experienced audience (rasikas) should emphasize on the importance and the need for a proper and formal music education and realize the importance of learning before putting the young musician on stage.

It is said “art begins where science ends.” It is unfortunate that we have seized to regard music as a science and have moved on quickly to the art or creative elements. Hence there is no urgency and the need to learn this craft technically. It is being disrespectful towards one’s art if attempts are made before learning the intricacies.

Hence stage and performance can wait... learning and rigorous training come first. Needless to say that the process or the journey of learning and gaining knowledge itself is so beautiful and satisfying that the destination (success) matters no more, to the true and genuine traveler.

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