Lovers of Carnatic music all over the world will keep their ears and eyes tuned to Tamil channels in the month of December. This is the month of The unparalleled ‘ December kutcheri’ season of Madras .
All famous sabhas( cultural academy) of Madras like Narada gana sabha, Mylapore fine arts club, parthasarathy sabha , vani mahal and many more organize music concerts of celebrated and accomplished musicians & singers . Upcoming and budding artistes also find a platform to show case their talent. Many carnatic musicians based out of Madras travel from faraway countries to visit and participate in the music season.
It is a treat to watch all mamis( elderly woman) in rustling silk sarees and mamas( elderly men) in pattu veshtis( dhoti) and jibba( kurta) attending the concerts along with their restless peran and petthis(grand children).
The misty December evenings are warmed up with Sabha canteens dishing out excellent traditional food like hot kasi halwa, asoka halwa, dosa, vadai, bajji, upma, pongal etc,. Each day the menu would be different. All good food can be washed down with hot degree Kapi.
In our family too, we have music lovers and singers, who will be tuned in to the musical concerts on TV.
MIL is not a trained musician but can sing well. She is self-taught through kelvi gnanam and can identify and appreciate traditional music. She was lucky to have the great carnatic legend ‘GNB’ sing during her wedding.
My mom and her 3 sisters are all well trained veena players and have given many concerts at their home town Mylapore. Their marriage and subsequent shift to different places in India applied brakes on their musical training and practice. Amma especially is very fond of 'kuil pattu' played by the famous veena player chitti babu and often recalls to us her visits to his concert at mylapore.
Amma encouraged me and my sister to take up vocals and she made us listen to the concerts on radio. After a lot of search amma managed to find a music teacher in our neighborhood. I and my sister started our music lessons under her and a year later our till then spinster teacher who had decided to remain unmarried all her life, got married at the age of 44. Our music training went for a toss. My sister later joined Veena classes.
My 7 year old niece Janavi(sister's daughter) is learning music from the age of 3 from her paternal grandmom (disciple of Musiri Subramania Iyer). It is a treat to watch her sing - Chinna chinna muruga…. Children are like sponges.They pick up anything taught to them quickly and music makes it so much easier for them.
To channelize the energy of my bubbly and enthusiastic daughter, I initiated her into music at the age of 4 under her first guru Mrs. Pankaja Krishnamurthy. She was a reluctant learner in the beginning and her training was aborted when we shifted to Hyderabad.
Three years later, she resumed her training under Mrs. Kamala Narayan (sister of south Indian actor Sai kumar and a great musician himself) and continued till her geetham and under her training she completed the junior exams conducted by Gandharva maha vidyalaya at the age of 9. All this with very less enthusiasm.
Our shift from that locality led me to find a new teacher for her and it ended with her present tutor ‘Karuna Raman’. She is being trained in classical carnatic under her for the past 5 years and has graduated to 'keerthanai'.
Now without coaxing or cajoling, She loves to go to music class amidst her tight school projects and play time. She misses her friend’s birthday party when it clashes with her music class. While at school project work or at leisure, she listens to carnatic songs on i-pod and tries to catch the nuances. She is able to judge and appreciate the finer points of the contestants on musical reality shows .
Though I admit she does not do much saadhakam (practice), I am glad she has turned from a reluctant beginner to an enthusiastic appreciative singer of carnatic music. Hope her musical journey continues…... For music is a great stabiliser in today's turbulent world.
(Disciples of Mrs. Karuna Raman during Ganesh Utsav)