ideal Objectives And Music Syllabi

By Dr. Ragini Trivedi



Wreaking change in the way we travel, communicate, work and relax, twentieth century has affected the role of teacher as well. Even in such specialized fields as performing arts, the task is more of an interpreter than that of a conventional guru. The new wave of teaching aims to bring out something from the pupil rather than plant something on to him. In place of compression the teaching process has to be regarded as one of expression. It is no longer a carriage of ideas that makes a student excel but the rational response he returns to those ideas. So, while the focus is on making a good performer or a teacher, the design of syllabus should be such that the students learn to make valid responses to existing knowledge in the domain of theory, practice and history of music.

With the advancement of teaching technique, manner of learning and comprehending music has changed enormously. The change within the past century has brought about congenial atmosphere in the field of performing arts, which in turn has given hope and opportunity to learn and perform music with grace. With the highest body of learning in this country aiming towards standardization and updating of various syllabi, it is necessary to steer clear of myths and misconceptions.

To achieve the desired goal it is necessary that one should understand the nature of the subject. Music as a subject has several branches. Keeping in mind the diversity of the art the syllabus has to be designed with great care and preciseness.

Way back “The Royal Academy of Music” in London was giving licentiate diploma to (a) teachers and (b) performers. This was a technical distinction without any real difference. There has always been this idea that those who cannot perform take to teaching. This is a regrettable perversion of the fact. Once a term “the refuge of the destitute” was also used for teaching profession. Yet, though the bubble-glory that a stage performer seeks, rarely comes to a teacher, the latter has a more satisfying careers in terms of stable and measurable output.

For the purpose of music education there are three chief branches, which distinctly beckon a scholar to pursue training in his field of interest.

All the above mentioned branches are basically inter connected and interdependent upon each other. At present there does not exist any demarcation and students study all these in condensed form without either gaining insight or learning to make practical application of their knowledge. Hence, to enrich the scholarship of a pupil, to ease up the drudgery of studying inextricable theories of various erudite scholars from ancient and modern time last but not the least to understand the intricacies of the subject, categorization and branching of the music discipline is desirable.

Theoretician or Musicologist

In order to give broader outlook area of study can be distributed into three sections-----

1. History

Study of genesis and the successive development of Indian music along with analytical and comprehensive knowledge of ancient and modern styles of singing and playing is desirable. Deep study and epitome of various scholar’s work, ancient and modern should be given priority. Historical development of Indian folk and classical instruments, their uniqueness and present status should be included in the syllabi.

Constant change in political, social and religious situation in India has influenced Indian music up to a certain degree. Factual analysis is a need of the times for determining more accurate and meaningful answers. History of world music should be a necessary part of study.

2. Aesthetics

In India modern scholarship has evinced little interest towards study of aesthetics. However, current fashion in no way may derogate its importance. In ancient India much thought and contemplation resulted in voluminous writings about Ras Siddhanta. Western thinkers too have a clear theory reagrding aesthetics of sound. Indian principles have to be reviewed with consideration of changes brought about by modern life-style. In the way that night view of any geographic location has undergone sea-change because of a century's environmental pollution, the phonosphere today is entirely different from that a century or two back. Considerations like these would result in a more contemporanious aesthetics which shall be more likely to garner esteem in the more applied fields.

3. Phonetics

In this section “music as a science” should be included. Studying music scientifically, concepts such as musical tones, tone productions, musical scale, harmony and melody and musical laboratory etc. be prescribed to enhance the physical knowledge of pupil. In early seventies shruti veena was created by Dr. Lal Mani Misra in the Performing Arts faculty of B.H.U. with a specific aim. It was created to demonstrate all 22 of Shruti-s or microtonal units simultaneously so that listening to it, distinct positions of the Shruti-s could be observed thereby making it easy to understand the subtle theory of Bharat.

A study of Shruti system should be included both in theory and practice. This shall serve to evaluate foundation of Indian music on principles of sound physics.

Adequately equipped laboratory should be developed where students can learn about sound.

Academician and Teacher

I have deliberately used both titles academician and teacher. Owing to performing arts one can be a good instrumentalist or a vocalist but that does not imply that he or she can be a good academician too. Thus, in order to make a good teacher and academician one has to learn definitions and terms used in ancient and modern India with complete analysis of common and rare raga-s. Study of different styles and techniques used by various gharanas, about the artistes and their art is desirable. There are several topics regarding applied theory that can be included in the syllabus. Modern music teacher is facing lot of problems evaluating and discussing the new wave of music. A comprehensive study of fusion with possibilities to harmonise western music with Indian scale system, its merits and demerits are some important issues for study.

Artiste or Performer

In the sixties Banaras Hindu University started a specialization course to produce good performers from University. This course was a post PG course that was considered equivalent to Ph.D. It was a doctoral degree with specialization in performance and composition conducted in the fashion of any gruelling professional course. The course was designed to give the students all the training and opportunity to establish himself as a performer. Through frequent public performances and regular practice hours, the students were constantly tested whehter they had come up to a certain level. Students had to submit a dissertation containing a minimum of thirty self-made compositions and ten orchestral compositions before they could appear for the final examination.

For the training of a performer a teacher must also have the quality to perform. In an institution a scholar has ample space to understand and adopt the subject.

It is axiomatic that no one can create an artist. If this whim prevails among the curricular designers, desired goal can never be achieved. However, the requisite atmosphere can be provided to a learner where he or she can bring out best of their intrinsic artistic qualities.

To get positive results from a pupil total learning period should be distributed into three sections.

(a) Students should be exposed to classical music from sixth standard.

(b) Students must study music as a subject not as a hobby.

(c) Students should be given choices to select their own group.

(d) Fundamental knowledge of the subject be given to the young minds so that if they want to carry art as a serious study they have the necessary inkling of the subject.


 In the 21st century, with all kinds of magnificent equipment and congenial atmosphere the possibilities to bring the best out of a pupil are enormous. As I have said earlier, one cannot create or produce an artiste by any method. It is a born talent, which can only be polished by giving proper ambience to student where he or she can improve their art with essential training and experience. However, it is always possible to take a pupil to the height of a master performer. Anyone who possess a good ear and is able to put in required hours required by the course / training module can be brought to the level of performance as the course conducted at BHU clearly established. In a nation with probably the richest heritage, there is no dearth of choices. Still the curriculum in most educational system revolves around the ubiquitous string of facts. Human beings though a class, are different from each other. They ought to be offered a plan of study which fits their inclination and their abilities.


Other articles by Dr. Ragini Trivedi:

Performance Sans Formality

Role of Institutions in Distance Music Education

...Shall Ever The Twain Meet?

For views of musicians on aspects of music click here


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