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Music education and child development

Provides several ideas on how to introduce music into a child`s life. Includes ideas on how to progress through teaching and answers a few of the concerns parents may have.

A Note to the Parent(s):

There are some facts of interest to the parent before education is begun. Perhaps you re deciding on whether or not to teach your child music. The following should help you:

Music opens pathways to logical thinking, mathematics, and spacial imagery at an early age.

The earlier the exposure to music, the higher the child s I.Q. as he develops.

The most important men in your child s music education will be Mozart, Vivaldi, and Bach: the highest promoters of musical and mathematical growth in the history of music.

Teaching your child music can be cheap (even free), fun, and possibly the best time you spend with him.

Beginning Music Education

You must assess which medium of education best suits your child. Perhaps your child will enjoy experiencing the guitar or drum hands-on; in which case one might consider renting or borrowing the chosen instrument. Of course, if your child has a tendency to break everything he etouches with Midas-like accuracy, a joint listening/ observing session is possibly a wiser medium. Your local library is certain to carry several, if not hundreds of, CDs and videos of performances by everyone from your child s favorite Muppet to your favorite music artist. Certainly, your child would love to help in the choosing. Books are also a great medium if not used exclusively. Music is hard to learn without sounds or vibrations.

Continuing Music Education

Once the education has begun, it is wise to include your child in the teaching process. Let him share what he s learned on his own as well as what he wants to continue learning. Perhaps he has expressed an interest in a certain genre of music. Perhaps Jazz has struck a particularly strong chord. It is suggested that the parent continues a general music exposure for the child with an emphasis on the genre of greatest interest to the child. Use the knowledge you have of your child to discern whether or not he is ready for lessons. If so, follow through at your easiest convenience focusing on budget and time (more on that later). If not, simply continue your joint music sessions steadily and use your own judgement as to whether or not your child is ready.

Music Lessons

Always use your best judgement considering who you choose to hand your child over to for one to two hours a week. Perhaps someone you know in your community or congregation is qualified in a certain instrument or you feel has a greater knowledge of your child s chosen genre. In the beginning especially, budget and time are greater factors than the teacher s abilities. At this point in time, you are simply looking to give your child a solid base. It s possible that one hour out of the month is sufficient for you and your child. Once again, use your best judgement.

Always keep track of your child s progress. You will surely find that he has or will gain a leg up in his academics. The responsibility an instrument gives a child is also priceless. It is very important to keep track of his progress and to keep him talking about his accomplishments. As your child progresses, keep an active part in the learning experience. Do not push him, however. Once learning becomes a chore, the child quickly loses interest and begins to dislike his newfound abilities. Last of all, keep your eyes and ears open, but most of all, your heart.

Written by Kathryn Merci Wells -

On Gaud Malhar and Miyan Malhar

A couple of aprachalita Malhar prakArs were discussed in an earlier feature, A Tale of Two Malhars . This note extends that discussion through a formal inquiry into the Malhar Raganga, culminating in an exploration of its two most significant representatives: Gaud Malhar and Miyan Malhar (Note: A brief discussion on Raga Ramdasi Malhar was later added to this feature). The Malhar group is extremely popular and its sub-melodies legion. A nimble imagination and an afternoon to spare are all it takes, it would seem, to add your personal Malhar to the catalogue. We shall not go into the whole shebang and visit every known variant. There will be occasions aplenty to sample the other Malhars. Already there are a few Malhar prakArs available through the earlier features on SAWF and more will be added to The Treasure Trove in the fullness of time. The traditionally significant Malhars are few, and all the derivatives are essentially extensions of two central themes that constitute the Malhar kernel. The earlier articles have illuminated the power of the idea of the Raganga, the fundamental guiding 'principle' of the melodic Hindustani superstructure. To understand the variations, it is desirable to first grasp and internalize the tenets of the Raganga.

Throughout this excursion, M =shuddha and m =teevra madhyam.

Raganga Raga Shuddha Malhar

This very old rAga is the original default "Malhar" and the carrier of the principal Malhar lakshaNAs. However, it has become scarce in recent times with the result that "Malhar" today has come to be synonymous with the vastly popular Miyan Malhar. For a scholarly exegesis of the Malhar group, the reader is referred to the treatise Raga Malhar Darshan authored by Jha-sahab's disciple, Dr. Geeta Banerjee. Here we shall content ourself with a broad view and touch upon the key points of rAga structure.

Shuddha Malhar has a pentatonic scale set, S R M P D, shared by later rAgas such as Jaladhar Kedar and Durga (of the Bilawal thAT). The chief Malhar lakshaNA, the quintessence of every Malhar, is:

M (M)R (M)R P

The ucchAraNa (intonation) of the rishab graced by the madhyam is crucial. The nominal M R P construct is common to other rAgas (eg. Durga) but the distinction lies in the ucchAraNa. Recall the dictum, often heard in Jha-sahab's discourses: ucchAraNa bheda se rAga bheda.

The second phrase contributed by Shuddha Malhar belongs to the uttarAnga:

M P (S")D S", S", D P M

The nyAsa swara is the madhyam. This prayoga is heard in several Malhars, eg. Gaud Malhar.

A ponderous gait and a meenD-rich contour characterize Shuddha Malhar. With its stately mien, it is ideally suited for Dhrupad-anga gAyaki. A sample chalan is now written out. The audio clips following will bring home the nuance:

S, R M, M R (M)R P

M P (S")D S", S" R" S", S", D P M,

M (M)R (M)R P, P M, R M, M R S

Some remarks on the scale-congruent Jaladhar Kedar and Durga are in order.

Jaladhar Kedar: The primary lakshaNA expresses the Kedar anga, viz., S R S M, M P M, M R S. An AbhAs of Shuddha Malhar prevails in the uttarAnga.

Durga: The key phrases are - (P)D (P)M R P and S R (S)D' S. Both ucchAraNa-bheda and chalan-bheda insure a melody that steers clear of Shuddha Malhar.

< -- Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang" at the author's home in Goa

As always, Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang" brings to bear his exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge, clarity and precision of thought, and felicity of expression in this interview broadcast many years ago from AIR, Allahabad. His interlocutor is S.L. Kandara, a violin player and disciple of the Sarangi maestro Ram Narain. Jha-sahab dwells on the structure of Shuddha Malhar, spells out the highlights of the scale-congruent Jaladhar Kedar and Durga, and finally sketches a Dhrupad -

A Shuddha Malhar composition of S.N. Ratanjankar rendered by his disciple K.G. Ginde reinforces its features: dhooma dhooma dhooma Aye -

To recap, the tonal sentence M (M)R (M)R P is a sine qua non for Raganga Malhar. In recent times, the overwhelming influence of Raga Miyan Malhar has lead to the definition of a second, subsidiary Malhar lakshaNA, one that involves the two nishAds. To wit, S, N' n' D' N', N' S and M' P' n' D' N' S. More on this later in the Miyan Malhar section.

Raga Gaud Malhar

Among the oldest Malhars, it predates Miyan Malhar. As the name suggests, the basic building blocks are supplied by Gaud and Shuddha Malhar. Additional material is contributed by Bilawal. Tying these diverse strands together are special sanchAris.

The poorvAnga activity is typically initiated with clusters contributed by Gaud:

S, R G M, M G M G R G S, R G M, P M

The strong, glowing madhyam stands out.

The Gaud-inspired tonal phrase paves the way for a segue into Malhar territory:

S, RGM, M (M)R (M)R P

Then comes:

M (M)R P, D [n] P, G P M

The n in square brackets denotes a shake on that swara that will be heard in the clips later.

M P (S")D S" (from Shuddha Malhar) or P P N D N S" (from Bilawal) are the two most common modes of uttarAnga conduct. Also employed to good effect is a straight and quick MPDNS". Very occasionally there's the P D n S" in a Khamaj-like phrase. The Miyan Malhar-inspired Arohi uThAv - M P n D N S" - plied in Atrauli-Jaipur and some Gwalior treatments is frowned upon by the Malhar purist who considers it to be at best superfluous and at worst injurious to Gaud Malhar's health.

The avarohi passages reveal the influence of Bilawal - S" D n P - and Shuddha Malhar -

Putting it all together, a fašade of Gaud Malhar is synthesized:

- S, RGM, M (M)R (M)R P, D, [n] P

- MPDNS"R", S", S" D n P, D G P M

- P, P N D N S", S" DPM, (M)R R P, G P M

- S, RGM, R G R M, G R S

The above formulation carries the essence of the rAga. The nitty-gritty of the various supporting artifacts, we shall not delve into. The clips reveal them all and the excited reader is encouraged to bring his own measure.

Obiter dicta: There are a few other flavours of Gaud Malhar. There's one that takes in the komal gandhAr only and another with both the gandhArs. These are mostly favoured by the Dhrupadiyas. Yet another type of Gaud Malhar adopts the posture detailed above but with an excess of Khamaj influence. And there's the gandhAr-less outlier too.

Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang" speaks on Gaud Malhar with not a word wasted in this segment recorded over the telephone line -


I am indebted to Romesh Aeri, Ashok Ambardar and Ajay Nerurkar. Sir Vish Krishnan always has much more 'light' material lined up than can be included here. My special thanks go to Chetan Vinchhi, Sanjay Havanur and V.N. Muthukumar. Anita Thakur, it does not bear repeating, is why this effort has survived and thrived.


From B.R. Deodhar's Pillars of Hindustani Music:

One day [Bade Ghulam Ali] Khansaheb had a radio broadcast at 1 p.m. As I was working for the Bombay Radio Station at the time, I too had to be in attendance. After he had finished, Khansaheb said, "Wait for a while. I have sent for a taxi - we shall go together." It was mid-july and the rain was coming down in torrents. Besides, I was hungry. But I did not have the heart to say 'no' to Khansaheb. The taxi came along and we got in. Water in any form made Khansaheb happy and heavy rains in particular were pure bliss for him. Some of the rain-water seeped into the taxi and began to drench us but Khansaheb seemed to be in high spirits. He said, "Come Deodharsaheb, let us go to the sea-shore; the sea would be something to be seen right now." I protested, "For one, I am famished and besides my clothes are beginning to get wet. So let me go straight home." However, by way of compromise I agreed to let the taxi driver take us via Marine Drive. We came to Marine Drive and Khansaheb asked the cabbie to stop his vehicle at a spot where there is a cement-concrete projection. The waves of the turbulent sea at this point were thirty to forty feet high. Khansaheb said, "Deodharsaheb, the time and this place are just right for doing riyaz. Listen." And he began to sing. Whenever a particularly massive wave broke and water spouted up Khansaheb's tana rose in synchronization and descended when water cascaded down. Water rose in a single massive column but split at the top and fell in broken slivers; so did Khansaheb's tana in raga Miyan Malhar. Sometimes, if his ascending notes failed to keep pace with the surging water, he was angry with himself but tried again till it synchronized perfectly with the surging water. This went on for three quarters of an hour. I got so interested in the whole proceeding that hunger and thirst were forgotten. Finally Khansaheb's son, who happened to be with us, said to his father, "Let us go now - it is two-thirty p.m. and we are both hungry."

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