Five-day Intensive Residential Workshop in Carnatic Music

The Bharata Society of Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth organised a five-day intensive residential workshop in Carnatic music from 28 April to 02 May 2023 under the guidance of Dr. PN Prabhavathy (Assistant Professor, School of Kalayoga). The objective of the camp was to introduce students to rare varnams and also bolster other performance areas. There were 12 students including participants from New Delhi, Bengaluru and Kerala.

The day would begin with Yoga at 6:00 am led by Guru Bhupendra Singh Negi. Singers usually tend to ignore the physical aspects of performance such as breathing, posture and stamina. The Yoga classes reiterated the need for singers to incorporate exercise into their daily routine.

The yoga session was followed by a ‘Sādhakam’ session at 07:00 am where Sarali Variśai, Madhyasthayi Variśai, and Alankaaram at various speeds (including tiśram) were practised with rigour. The sapta tāla system was introduced in great detail so that students could apply these concepts from their beginner lessons itself for a deeper understanding. After a break for a healthy breakfast, students would continue classes with a focus on Varnams. Polishing already learnt Varnam-s with the application of Gamaka-s, learning new Varnam-s in rare raga-s like Mandari and Sama was a remarkable attraction for the students. Focus was given to each student on every aspect of singing including Śruti, Tālam, sitting posture, voice projection, voice modulation as well as nuances specific to the rāga.

The afternoon sessions focused on the learning of select kritis and bhajans. Ragas like Hamirkalyani, Yamunakalyanai and Brindavani were introduced to the students through simple bhajans. 

The evening sessions ended with satsang. There were three satsangs. The first session was taken by Prof. Gauri Mahulikar, Academic Director, Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF). Prof. Gauri traced the origin of music from the Maheshwarani Sutras. The connection between music and nature was explained through the story of the origin of swaras. The connection of the tala system to the various moods in nature was also beautifully brought out with examples. She enumerated examples from various Sanskrit texts that give a holistic picture of this hoary art.

The second session was taken by Dr. Sunita Suven Patil, Academic Research Assistant to the Academic Research Director of CIF. Dr. Sunita continued the line of thought on the origin of music and talked about the impact of music on our emotional well-being and how it is an important aspect of the theory of multiple intelligences. 

Dr. Sunitha Grandhee, Dean–of Academics of CVV, took up the third session. A renowned flautist, she brought the beauty and intricacy of the flute to the classroom. The students were introduced to various types of flutes used all over the world. The students also tried their hand at playing the flute which was a fun exercise. It revealed to the students the complexity of an otherwise seemingly simple-looking instrument!

The camp concluded on 2nd May 2023 with a valedictory function. Dr. Sunitha Grandhee presented the valedictory address followed by a presentation by the students. The camp received a very positive response from all the students and parents who are looking forward to continuing this journey.