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Learn Indian Classical Music Online - WeGotGuru.Com

Jan 10th 2012 at 10:43 PM
In the Indian culture, learning has always had an exalted status. For thousands of years learning was enabled under the Guru-Shishya tradition. A Guru (teacher) would accept a Shishya (student). The Shishya generally moved into the Guru's ashram or home and spent a few years under the tutelage of the Guru. There was emphasis on learning as a wholesome process. It was not just about acquiring knowledge on a particular subject whether it be Philosophy, Music etc. The focus was on developing the personality of a student by establishing a bond between the Guru and Shishya. Even today it is not uncommon to see this tradition being followed in some places.

However, as the pace of modern life has picked up some of these traditions have given way to more practical but effective methods. Today the Guru is extended a lot of respect, but the mechanism of teaching has altered quite a bit. Teachers travel to the students to teach; there are teaching institutes springing up etc. But a lot of the technicalities of teaching especially, Indian Classical music have still continued on.

Teaching of Classical Music still involves a lot of traditional elements in India. There are two main classifications for Indian music. Carnatic music is the South Indian style of Classical music while Hindustani is the North Indian style of Classical music. Though they share a lot of common concepts, they have both evolved into being very distinct genres of music. Music is typically taught with the Guru and Shishya seated on the floor. The range and quality of the voice of the singer determines what sruti (pitch) is set for the session. Usually an instrument called Tanbura (Tanpura) is used to help stick to the sruti. The tala (or taal - rhythm) is typically followed with the singers using their hands in a regular gesture. They keep track of the rhythm at all time. Sometimes they have a percussion player alongside to maintain the rhythm. Indian music has very clearly defined stages for learning music. Indian music is also very rich in scales. There are hundreds of scales which are diligently followed. These scales are called Raga (or Raag). Understanding the intricacies of Ragas for eg. learn carnatic music takes many many years of practice and listening to music.

Over the years, with people of Indian origin moving to different parts of the world there has been more interest and demand for Indian music even outside of India. Today with advancement in technology, it is quite common to see Indian music being taught online over the internet. Some classical traditions do not make it easy to teach Indian music for eg. carnatic music lessons online over the internet. But technology has progressed to a level where a lot of challenges can be overcome. Technology also brings in some novel concepts which make certain aspects of teaching music easier online. Today if one has a computer with a decent camera and a fast internet connection you could consider teaching or learning Indian music. was started with the purpose of making it easy to get Indian Classical Music within the reach of many music lovers all over the world. WeGotGuru is a platform for Shishyas to find the right indian music guru. We provide the Gurus a platform to provide their background, class details and even publish their creations online.

We believe that today new internet technologies like 'Web 2.0' and 'Social media' help make distances vanish and a different dimension of interaction possible between Gurus and Shishyas.  I have seen various instruments like the Sitar, Sarod, Tabla, Mridangam, Violin, Flute, Piano, Veena, Carnatic Music Guitar, Bansuri, Rudra Veena, Sarangi, Pakhwaj, etc being taught over the internet. I have talked to students and carnatic music teachers in places faraway from India, like Cleveland, New Jersey, New York, Fremont, Los Angeles, London, Dubai etc and all of them had successful experiences learning Indian Classical Music long distance. There are some issues to be worked around, but there are tools and technology available to make it possible now.

Let us take a look at some of the challenges and opportunities in Online Music Learning.

A few of the often cited challenges are these:
-Voice and video quality are not always dependable while learning online
-Students need to have regular classes and practice sessions
-Students need to attend concerts and be in an environment filled with music
-Depending on the Instrument being learnt, the teacher should be able to exactly see the details

It is true that a good, fast internet connection is a must for Online teaching. That can solve most issues with quality of audio and video. A good computer, a headset (mic and headphones) and an external camera that connects to the USB port of a laptop can solve most of the clarity issues. In this world of YouTube, Slideshare, Screencast etc,  WeGotGuru has built an environment where teachers can provide a collection of relevant Video and other teaching content to ensure that the student gets immersed in a musical environment. We allow teachers to record small Video classes that they can post on the WeGotGuru website. We suggest the best approach is to do a mix of LIVE and Recorded teaching. For example, the teacher conducts a live class once a week and every day the student uses the 'Recorded' module from the teacher for practice sessions. Also the teacher can point the student to some sample songs/concerts within the teacher's Knowledge links (WeGotGuru site provides easy addition of these from YouTube, Slideshare, Noteflight and many sources) which help the student to be in tune with the Raga/Tala being taught in the ongoing sessions. We also recommend that our teachers add Notes/Blogs on our site which can be easily perused by the student before and after the sessions.

Here are a few general suggestions for teachers and students:
-Ensure a good Computer and Internet connection is available .
-It is always good to have a headset or external mic depending on the type of class.
-Wear comfortable clothes.
-For learning certain instruments it is beneficial to have an external camera.
-Have a flexible camera stand so that the position can be changed for the appropriate lesson.
-Setup a comfortable sitting arrangement which can help visibility of the instrument or hand gestures for tala etc.
-It is recommended that the teachers prepare lessons and notes in advance and email student or post on the WeGotGuru blog.
-Consider a Sruti box or Tanpura box or an online Tanpura so that the right settings can made with teacher interaction.
-It is highly recommended that the Teacher use the Blog facility with WeGotGuru to provide relevant videos and other study material.
-Do some research on the right Video conferencing tool that is best for your need (Eg.
-Consider using a whiteboard online for explaining certain concepts (many free tools at etc).
-Use any opportunity to meet the teacher face to face if travel permits. Ideally a few classes at the start face to face will be really good.
-Consider using a tool to record the session so that practice is easier.
-It is strongly encouraged that the teacher record small video sessions for practice for the students. A lot of these could be available on sites like YouTube which can be reused.
-It is always better to try individual classes at first. Group classes could be more challenging.
-It is always good to have an adult present while teaching younger kids. Helps in guidance and focusing.

With advanced communication and web technology that has made sharing content so easy, 'Online learning' may well be the way of the future. Think of it, you don't need to drive, you can take the class from anywhere, anyone, anytime.

Next time you take that flute lesson from a quiet park over your iPad, write me a note, please.

About WeGotGuru : is a 'Global Online Platform' for Teaching and Consulting.The company provides a web presence, tools and training to empower Professionals to establish their online marketing campaign, get online visibility and transact business over the internet. The WeGotGuru platform provides for each member a Personal profile page, Public listing, Online payment, Messaging and Chat tools, Video upload, Blogging tools, Discussion forums, a Marketing tool box, Review infrastructure, Online invoicing etc among other tools. We strive to provide seamless access to Social Media and Web 2.0 concepts for these professionals.

Anyone with an 'Expertise' in a range of areas can easily engage with Clients anywhere in the world and interact with them directly. The website is a portal for managing and consolidating all their ‘Knowledge activities’ in their domains.

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Please to comment
Jan 12th 2012 at 9:33 AM by GTBulmer
Hello, WeGotGuru: Thanks for sharing this overview of music, teaching and the great learning opportunity. Music is woven into every level of culture and society and it is a "language" we would all benefit from learning. GT :-)

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