The best way to learn Carnatic music is undoubtedly the age-old way of learning face to face with a reputable Guru. Over a period of many years of sustained training with the Guru, the student obtains a deep understanding of core musical values including style and aesthetics. During the earlier stages of learning, it is preferable for a student to strictly follow the padantharam (style of music) of one teacher to avoid confusion and frustration in learning. Once the student graduates to advanced levels, he/she develops the confidence to explore adapt other styles to one’s own comfortably and adeptly.
This is the ideal situation, to be able to learn from a reputed Guru, in person over a period of many years. An environment that might not easily be available to all.
Given that geographic distances, time constraints, accessibilites pose real challenges, online music learning can be chosen the next best option, if utilized the right way. Students who are already learning from a Guru can also use reputed online resources to expand their knowledge on topics like manodharma , raga understanding and repertoire.
Here are some tips to explore online learning and get the best out of it for your own learning.
1. Choose a reputed online source to learn from. – There are many free videos, tutorials and resources available for learning music online. Although some are authentic and helpful, there are others that may actually cause more harm than good. It often takes a lifetime of work to undo techniques and concepts learned incorrectly in the beginning. Learning from different sources can also lead to confusion, especially for beginners, as musical styles vary from teacher to teacher.
Look for a reputed online source taught by experienced Gurus . The teaching and musical style should be consistent, offering a guided path to the student to advance to higher levels of learning in a progressive manner. Books, Syllabi, self-testing through online quizzes, examinations and certifications can definitely help motivate students to master concepts and feel a certain pride in achievement. Acharyanet.com offers lessons of this format taught by Gurus who have a successful track-record of training many successful musicians. Their passion, expertise, and guidance address the learning requirements of all students, basic, intermediate or advanced.
2. Train your ears first – Before attempting to sing or practice, understand the content thoroughly. Listen to it many times to understand the details. Online lessons can make this practice that much easier. Students can play the recording as many times as needed without tiring the teacher. The goal is to be very comfortable with the phrases and tala in the mind before actually starting to practice. This will reduce the time to master the piece significantly. This is also referred to as mind-training, an important concept in Carnatic Music.
3. Go slow and conquer in stages – When learning a new song, go slow, pay attention to the details and try your best to get everything as close to the target as possible. Do not try to learn the entire piece in one go or even in one day. You might be new to the raga or the style or even be challenged by the tala complexity. Singing slowly and mastering the sections one by one will actually help you achieve your target faster. On Acharyanet, we recommend that students first learn a geetham or a varnam in the same raga before learning a krithi. One might then learn a variety of compositions in a particular raga in different talas from varied composers. This would help build a strong understanding of the raga before attempting manodharma aspects like alapana, kalpana swarams and neraval.
4. Don’t confuse the minute with the minor – You will hear this phrase often in Acharyanet lessons taught by Maestro Chitravina N Ravikiran. In the excitement and rush to learn and perform quickly, we sometimes tend to overlook some of the more important details when learning. Break everything down to understand nuances in every musical aspect like gamakas (oscillation in notes), kaarvai (duration of a note) , tempo and melodic/ rhythmic variations. The more one pays attention to the details, the more one gets closer to being a truly refined artiste.
5. Sruti and Laya – There is a reason these concepts are likened to a mother and father in Carnatic Music. They are fundamental to all music and cannot be compromised on. Make sure to pay close attention to aligning your voice with the sruti (pitch) and keeping the kalapramanam(steady rhythm) at all times. Even advanced singers sometimes lose track of these fundamentals when focusing on a challenging passage. With good practice involving mindful training, this can be overcome.
6. Obtain feedback from a reputed Guru – Even if your main source of learning is online, it is always possible to get feedback and guidance from reputed Gurus through various opportunities. These could be with the help of personal interaction through online classes, workshops or lec-dem or even online and social media forums. Acharyanet.com also offers the opportunity for students to schedule online classes to get live feedback. We also conducts workshops and lec-dems in various locations to allow students to learn in person and get feedback from the Guru. Some of these are available on the site in the Recorded Webcasts section. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to organize a live session near your locality.
7. Practice with goals – Don’t practice aimlessly for the sake of practice. Have a specific goal in mind for the day, the achievement of which will motivate you to overcome more challenges and inspire you to go further. Challenge yourself and believe that you can truly achieve.
8. Regular practice – Based on your personal musical goals and time constraints plan for a scheduled music practice every week and be consistent with your schedule. Be sure to cover all relevant areas of practice like voice culture, tala, composition learning, manodharma, listening to great masters, notation writing, theory etc. It would be a good idea to cultivate the practice of keeping a practice log. It is also important to include warmups in your practice which might include akaaara practice in varisais and alankarams.
9. Advantages of learning online for adults – Many online students tend to be older and wish to rekindle their love for music at a later stage in life. Acharyanet.com offers a great opportunity for such learners to master fundamental concepts thorougly encouraging them to progress to higher levels of learning. Adults are usually self-motivated and can understand many concepts easily due to a deeper understanding. Online learning also helps them to achieve their goal overcoming hurdles like time constraints, family commitments or even physical challenges.
10. Learn something new everyday – Find one aspect of carnatic music learning that you didnt know already and try to learn it. It could be a new raga, a new composition, a new technique or even a new korvai. The discipline of seeking out and learning something new constantly will help you hone your musical instincts and help you express yourself better. Doing this on a constant basis will help you challenge yourself and make it fun and exciting at the same time. Acharyanet offers a wide variety of lessons on various topics from tips, raga-building, compositions , manodharma taught by various Gurus. Explore and enjoy learning.
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