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Music education curriculum in public schools

Budget cuts in schools across the country have slashed music education curriculum from public schools. Researchers found music adds in children`s mental development.

Across America schools are cutting their budgets and one of the programs being left out is music. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are the important subjects according to many taxpayers. They don`t see the value in music education even though researchers have found a correlation between music and development of children`s mental abilities.

Studies prove that listening to music at a young age helps a child do better in math and science. Music has a powerful and positive influence on the brain. Sharon Begley wrote about this in the July 24 issues of Science and Technology. Music promotes connective ability. It isn`t just a means of recreation. It increases brainpower.

What does music teach other than an appreciation for rhythm? I`m speaking of classical music here, not rock and roll. Measurement, proportion, and pattern perception are some of the positive affects of music education. I`m a former teacher, mother, and piano player so I am biased in favor of music education. It gives me great pleasure when my son visits and we play our keyboards together. And when I go to his house he has tambourines, drums, and other percussion instruments.

When I taught kindergarten music was always an activity that all the children enjoyed participating in. As a group activity it is great. Children pay close attention to the words of songs and love to join in. This helps increase their ability to listen and learn. Musical instruments add to the pleasure while teaching children a sense of rythm.

Experts such like Jeanne Bamberge, a MIT professor have done studies to prove the positive affect of music on children`s learning abilities. She is the designer of programs for the Graham and Parks School in Cambridge and she supports the integration of music into the school system.

There is a correlation between early language skills and music. Certainly we all have observed how young children love music. They dance naturally, and hum or sing along. In preschool and kindergarten, children quickly learn the words to the songs. They sing along, clap in time to the music and thoroughly enjoy this portion of this day. They don`t realize they are learning. Martin Gardiner at the Center for the Study of Human Development at Brown University reported a connection between early language skills and musical ability.

Children as young as three can remember words to songs they`ve heard repeated. This is a great contribution to their ability to retain information. It expands their memories. There is so much more music adds to children`s lives. What are they? According to the experts in education musical studies help children to develop independent work habits. Music is so important that it is now being promoted even for babies. There is a series of music CDs called BABY GENUISES for different age groups from birth through kindergarten.

Researchers have found that when musical education is included in schools, scores in math, science and language arts increase. Another study on children from disadvantaged families found the children improved their test scores when given musical education.

With all the data we now have it is a wonder that more public school administrators and parents don`t fight for music education. Yes, it costs money. To have an effective program requires a skilled instructor who not only has studied music but also is adept at playing an instrument. Music appreciation is only one component of musical education. Teaching children to not only enjoy music, but also play music is important.

Public schools in my areas require parents to pay hundreds of dollars if they want their children to play an instrument. This puts low-income families at severe disadvantages. Music education becomes a program for the elite. All children need access to music education. It is imperative for schools to invest in music equipment that children can use without additional cost. Not every child will want to play the piano or violin, but guitars, flutes, drums, cymbals and other percussion instruments offer a viable alternative.

One workshop I attended was held at a community college. The instructor played several bars of classical music. He explained the notes were a mathematical progression. Learning to play any instrument required that part of the brain utilized by science and math. Even at a college level, he said music appreciation classes, and instrument instruction would increase student`s ability to learn.

What can we do? Speak up at school board meetings. If parents, teachers, and school boards put their minds together they can come up with creative solutions to budget problems. Cooperation between music stores and schools is one avenue. A campaign for donated musical instruments is another. One school where I taught was faced with the same kind of budget cuts. Instead of slashing the music program, they offered it one day a week. It was held in the auditorium to several classes at once. For some children this is their only exposure to classical music.

It is up to us as concerned citizens to insist on music education. Our children`s minds are at stake.

For more information on the importance of music education in schools and solutions to budget problems, I recommend the following book: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE. 1999. Published by the The Arts Education Partnership and the President`s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Your local library will be able to obtain a copy for you.

Written by Beatrice Sheftel -

Raga Shree: Close Encounters

In the realm of melodic music the tradition of India is without equal. Nothing else comes close. The Europeans and Americans, the self-appointed adjudicators of every activity under the blazing sun, who once thought their finest melodies to be works of high Art, have now discovered, to their utter dismay, that they have done no better than wrestle with kindergarten level ditties when they have not been otherwise churning out noise. The vast terrain of Indian Ragadari music has nourished and nurtured a teeming web of melodic life of every conceivable level of complexity and aesthetic measure. The very high end of this spectrum is a nest for an aristocracy of Ragas that represents the acme in human melodic thought. To this exclusive commonwealth belongs our Raga-du-jour, Shree, at once recognizable for its forbiddingly haunting and deeply meditative mien. For the musician, it is among the most difficult Ragas to master. For the rasika, it is a fulfilling emotional purchase.

Throughout the following discussion m =teevra madhyam.

Shree is a very old rAga of the Poorvi thAT corresponding to the 51st melakartA of the Carnatic paddhati, Kamavardhini, with the following swara set: S r G m P d N. Shree is also a Raganga Raga subsuming and lending seed material to several other melodies (eg., Triveni, Jaitashree, Shree Tanki and so on). Raga Shree of the Carnatic paddhati is an altogether different bloke although there exists a curious relationship: a simple flip-flop of the swaras of the Carnatic Shree from or to their vikrita forms yields an approximate contour of the Hindustani Shree. Notice that a similar correlation holds true for other name-congruent pairs, eg., the Carnatic Hindolam and Hindustani Hindol or the Carnatic Bhoopal and Hindustani Bhoopali.

The nominal Arohana/avarohana of Raga Shree may be stated as:

S r, (G)r (G)r m P, N S"::S", r" N d P, d m G r, (G)r S

The Aroha/avaroha does not convey much and must be seen as a very preliminary aid. Although it has been stated here at the outset, it is really an ex post facto construction. Knowing a Raga involves investigation of its 'biochemistry', the position of all the swaras employed, their interrelationships and the prayogas. Shree is meeND pradhAna, of vakra build, and requiring of special swara ucchAraNa (enunciation). It places unusual demands on the musician's reflective daemon and calls for cultivation of proper habits of mind and voice. In the hands of a master Shree can lead to an ennobling experience. Lesser hands given to playing ducks and drakes ought to be persecuted to the highest extent allowed by the law of the land.

In the Arohi movement Shree omits the gandhAr and dhaivat. The central idea is the coupling of the komal rishab and pancham, the vAdi and samvAdi swaras, respectively. The intonation of the rishab tugged with the gandhAr and the meeND-laden rishab to pancham coupling define Shree's signature. Therein also lies the key to its gambheer, maestoso personality. The r-P-r coupling cuts both ways. S, r and P and are extremely strong swaras (nyAsa bahutva); the m, d and N swaras assume subsidiary values. The avarohi retreat is tricky as the entire locus cleaves through a minefield of meeNDs. The definitive movement - r" N d P, d m G r, S - is an important signpost of Raganga Shree. Execution of fast tAns in Shree is tough. It can be easily verified that a rapid run of rmPN is non-trivial (since it tends to slide into rmdN ). Recognition of such speedbreakers dictates the construction of tAns; the tendency is primarily towards avarohi tAnas in this rAga.

The essence of Shree is difficult to convey through the written word alone. Fortunately, today's technology permits a multimedia exposition. To get the rAga's gestalt it is recommended that you allow some of its key tonal movements to ricochet in the walls of your mind for at least a week or so.

We have cobbled together two representative chalans, one each for the poorvAnga and uttarAnga regions. The voice is Nachiketa Sharma. Observe the treatment accorded the rishab, the r-P-r interaction and the meeNDs in descent.

First, the poorvAnga:

S, (S)r, (G)r m P, P (P)r, (G)r (r)P,

(P)m P d m G r, (G)r (r)P (P)r, G r S

The uttarAnga chalan:

m P N, N S", mPNS"r", (G")r" (G")r" S",

r" N d P, (P)m P d m G r, (r)P (P)r, G r S

The finest of Shree is exemplified in the posse of clips summoned below. 'Light' renditions in this rAga are uncommon, its complex structure perhaps serving to thwart attempts to tame it. In the movie ANDOLAN (1951), the flute maestro Pannalal Ghosh composed a song based on Shree and had his wife Parul render it: Prabhu charanoN meN -

We open the 'classical' innings with three splendid compositions of Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang." All the lakshaNAs of the rAga emerge with crystal clarity in Jha-sahab's own voice packed as it is with anubhava (there is no good English equivalent of this beautiful word; "experience" doesn't quite cut it). First, the vilambit in dheemA teentAla:

gyAna na pAve guru bina gyAni

gurupada raja anjana aNkhiyana meN

mana driga dosha miTAve

Shiva SanakAdi raTe BhrahmAdika

nisi vAsara charanana chitta lAve

'rAmrang' Hari guru meN bheda na

veda na'ita nita gAve

Ramrang's druta bandish retains the textual bhAva. Notice the fit of the words with the melody and tAla. The composition has, what is known as, a vi-sam, where the accent is moved off the the sam and onto the second beat of the tAla cycle:

guru ke paga paRiye dhariye dhyAna mana nisi vAsara

sumiriye nAma pAve gyAna mAna guniyana meN

agama apAra nAda veda guru binA pAve kabahuna bheda

'rAmrang' bhAva bhagati kari dhyAve Ave jo sharana meN

Ramrang's brisk Tarana set in the 14-beats ADA chautAla:

Jha-sahab also tosses in a rendering of the well-known traditional bandish, eri hooN to, dotting the development with some shoptalk :

Among the earliest Khayal schools, Delhi Gharana now lies dormant. This rich and lyrical style was once the home of the likes of Achapal, Tanras Khan, Bundu Khan and Mamman Khan. The last distinguished representative of Delhi was Mamman's son, Chand Khan. It is a pleasure to offer a glimpse of Chand Khan's artistry in this prized recording. Notice his mudrA "Chand Piya" in the druta cheez:

Another vintage rendition of Laxmanprasad Jaipurwale of the "Kunwar Shyam" tradition (see the archive for an exclusive feature on him). He sings the baDA kHayAl traditionally dear to the Gwalior musicians, gajarwA bAje, in vilambit ektAla:

The most popular Shree melody of our times is the masterful composition of Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande ("Hararang"), Hari ke charana kamala, famously rendered by D.V. Paluskar in what turned out to be his swan song. The story of this recording is retailed in the Appendix attached to this feature.

Hari ke charana kamala nisadina sumira re

bhAva dhara sudha bheetara bhava jaladhi tara re

jo'i jo'i dharata dhyAna pAvata samAdhAna

'hararanga' kahe gyAna, abahu chita dhara re

D.V. Paluskar's brilliant performance:

Bhatkhande's chef d'oeuvre meets its match in the ecumenical genius of Amir Khan -

Now the Gwalior staple, gajarwA bAje, from the most promising Gwalior rep of this generation, Ulhas Kashalkar, cast originally in tilwADA tAla. Kashalkar then launches into the druta eri hooN to. Compare it with Jha's sahab's excellent delivery of the same cheez:

The doyen and teacher to many of Maharashtra's musicians, the late violinist and vocalist Gajananrao Joshi:

Like other grand rAgas, Shree is primarily the province of the vocalist. Nevertheless, the occasional instrumental performance transcends the run-of-the-mill. One such is by the cheej pijja-loving (naked) Emperor of San Rafael, Mr. Alubhai Khan -

A latter day Salamat Ali effortlessly summons an austere Shree ambience

but an earlier orgiastic excess with his brother Nazakat must be credited to youthful indiscretion -

The Atrauli-Jaipur conception of Shree is quite magnificent as witness the recordings of Mallikarjun Mansur. Here he assays the A-J chestnut kahAN mai guru dhooNDana jA'ooN:

Shruti Sadolikar's version reveals a variation on the bandish:

<-- K.G. Ginde's handwritten notation of Ratanjankar's composition in Shree

After Ramrang and Bhatkhande we come to the last of the great vAggeyakAras featured in this selection: S.N. Ratanjankar. His bandish, guni guna nihAre, is conveyed by his disciple K.G. Ginde. Shri Ginde's work in documenting Ratanjankar's 600+ compositions in his magnificent calligraphy, with astounding attention to notational detail, defies description and is a work of Art in its own right (see page sample):

guni guna nihAre guna ko sAra

beguni ko'u na pAyo pAra

bina kiye sAdhana guna nahiN Ave

'sujana' suna sAcha yAhi bichAra

We come to the final item of the Shree hit parade. C.R. Vyas in his own composition pays tribute to his guru Jagannathbuwa Purohit "Gunidas": kAhe Dara pA'ooN mai barse krupe mope jaba more JagatanAtha -

Appendix: D.V. Paluskar's last recording

Excerpts from Down Melody Lane by G.N. Joshi

Most classical musicians complained that it was very difficult for them to give a perfectly satisfactory performance in just 3(1/4) minutes. I therefore felt that if allowed to perform unrestrained for 15 to 20 minutes, they could be taped and later an edited version of the performance could be used on a disc When approached [D.V. Paluskar] enthusiastically agreed to cooperate. During the Ganapati festival of 1955 he had a number of singing assignments, the last one being at Vile Parle. He promised to come immediately after the last engagement and accordingly he came but he was very tired after the exertions of the successful programme. He wanted to postpone the experiment to a later date, but I told him that it did not matter very much if his voice was not in good shape because the recording was intended to be for experimental purposes alone and not for issue. It was about 2.30 p.m. when we went to the studio and made arrangements for the session. He was to leave for Pune at 5.00 p.m. by the Deccan Queen. I persuaded him to record a 20 minute long exposition of a raga which could cover the full length of our tape. Thereupon he sang and recorded Raga Shri. After the recording I rushed him off to the station in my car and waved him off. That was the last I saw of him. Hardly 3 weeks later he was suddenly taken ill with a mysterious illness and died on 26th October 1955. It was the Dassera day and the news gave the entire music world a stunning shock. The recording made by me three weeks earlier proved to be his last. From this 20 minute experimental tape of Raga Shri, I had to reconstruct a homogenous performance of the raga to fit on a 78 rpm record. I achieved this intricate task after listening to the tape repeatedly for over 18 hours When I played this 6(1/2) recording to the late Pandit S.N. Ratanjankar (who was then considered to be the greatest authority on Indian classical music) he never even suspected that it was in fact an abridged edition of a 20 minute performance. He congratulated me and our recording engineer and expressed his desire that we should record his performance in the same way. Accordingly we recorded Raga Yamani Bilawal sung by him, with V.G. Jog accompanying on the violin. Both edited versions - Bapurao Paluskar's and Ratanjankar's - when put in the market kept selling for years without a single person discovering that they were edited After the advent of the LP records this method was not necessary as an artist now had a much longer recording time than on the original 78 rpm records. Usually after a record was issued the original was sent to our factory in Dumdum. I had kept a copy of the tape of the Raga Shri since this experiment had been my own. Bapurao died before LP records were introduced. I therefore thought of issuing the 20 minute performance of Raga Shri on an LP Since the recording was only meant as an experiment, I had ignored the fact that Bapurao's voice sounded husky and tired. The performance was quite up to the standard in other respects. A tough controversy ensued between me and the technical department over this. I pleaded for the release of this record, pointing out the circumstances under which the recording was done After a two-year battle of words my viewpoint was accepted and the LP disc is, even today, on our prestige repertoire. When I bade goodbye to Bapurao at V.T. station, he had promised to come back for recording within a month, but alas, that was not to be. Cruel destiny snatched him away suddenly and prematurely, when he was only 34 and at the height of his career.

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