A Prayer & Plea For Indian Arts, Culture & Music

Acts alone do not help in the promotion or prevention of a culture from going to rack and ruin. The hapless condition of our Music & Culture is a glaring example of governmental apathy and neglect. According to a report prepared by UNESCO, the Punjabi language will disappear from the world in 50 years. Our language, dialects, and specially one of the oldest, enduring rich heritages of music, is decaying.

We ourselves are discouraging our children from opting for arts, culture & music as a career. Envious of the progeny of our nearest & dearest ones studying medicine, engineering or IT, we force our children to pick the same career, which they may be least interested in. We don’t want our children to be what they wish to be, and where they can excel; rather we wish them to be, what they don’t want to be and remain average. We want to create doctors, engineers and managers at the cost of our fine tradition of arts and culture. This is a catastrophic development.

We are ignoring music, arts & culture education at the primary level, secondary level, and undergraduate level. In India music is provided very little support as an academic subject, and music teachers feel that they must actively seek greater public endorsement for music education as a legitimate subject of study. Hence, music advocacy is to be promoted significantly. It is our collective responsibility to preserve our inheritance and to develop it into a rich legacy for future generations.

Modernity does not make tradition redundant. We are the offspring of a complex and rich culture, and music has played a crucial role in synthesizing it. It merits more than a disinterested glance by the authorities in colleges and universities. One is amazed at their callousness and quite dumbfounded at their ignorance when they talk of abolishing the subject from their syllabus. They argue that ‘unnecessary’ subjects require monetary props and they want to save their beloved country some much needed cash. We are not the victims of any financial crisis but of pure, unalloyed prejudice. Who will take up cudgels on behalf of us musicians who languish on the dusty shelves of modern education in India?

Of course, a new education policy has been announced by our Govt. Sadly, only technology, polytechnics, industry linked training centers, medicine, management etc. have been the point of discussion. What about our culture, arts and music? Philosophers and pedagogues variously define education. This is said to be the sum total of a man’s character. Education in the Indian tradition is not merely a means of earning a living; nor is it only a nursery of thought or a school for citizenship. It is initiation into the life of spirit, a training of the human soul in the pursuit of truth, and the practice of virtue. However in the present context it is a means to earn one’s living. Education should not merely be treated as a means of empowering people to get jobs for livelihood. The Indian Education Commission (1964-66) asserted that education ought to be related to the life, needs and aspirations of the people and thereby made a powerful instrument of social economic and cultural transformation.

Music has also remained the victim of State Govt.’s horrendous apathy and neglect. As the result of the deliberate, inexplicable intentions of the Punjab Govt. posts of lecturers in music from various Government Colleges like Govt. Barjindra Collge, Faridkot, were abolished. They declared that such subjects were an unnecessary surplus and a drain on the treasury. Later on, following an agitation by the Student and Teacher Unions of Punjab, and keeping in view the upcoming elections, the Govt. of Punjab changed its mind and a few posts were reinstated.

Our academia in India has failed to attract students who are genuinely interested in music. Life has changed in the last decade. We cannot apply the same decadent vision to our education system. Our educational institutes are offering the same old fashioned, hackneyed, outmoded two/three year courses & examination programs in arts, culture and music. A revision is mandatory and it should be accepted without any raising of eyebrows. We will have to design new state-of-the-art curricula to urge students towards the study of art & culture, especially music.

The United States of America and some of the European Countries have outlined National Standards for arts Education to be followed by every student and teacher at the primary level, as well as the secondary level art education.

– Students should be able to communicate at a basic level in the four arts disciplines-dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts.
– Students should be able to communicate proficiently in at least one art form.
– Students should be able to develop and present basic analyses of works of art.
– Students should have an informed acquaintance with exemplary works of art from a variety of cultures and historical periods.
– Students should be able to relate various types of arts, knowledge, and skills within and across the arts disciplines.

There is a set of national standards in music education also, which most teachers adhere to:

– Singing alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
– Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
– Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
– Reading and notating music.
– Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
– Evaluating music and music performances.
– Understanding relationships between music, the arts, and other disciplines outside the arts.

The Indian Government and private institutions should also include these musical standards in their Education system. Teachers should establish these standards in classrooms beginning in a kindergarten general music class, and ending in undergraduate level general, band, choral, or orchestral classes.

In today’s ‘global village’ scenario, the higher education system of developing nations like us must seek integration with universal learning. The concept of internationalization of higher education in syllabi, teaching and research should be implemented. Our institutes must introduce some new ultra modern courses in music.

Small duration Courses:

Music playing and performance courses should be offered at college level, e.g. Guitar/Sitar/Tabla Intermediate (duration 3 months), Music performance, Flute Ensemble etc. 3 months duration Courses in different instruments like Sitar, Tabla, Harmonium, Sarangi, Flute, Violin, Guitar, Synthesizer, Drums etc. Different courses in different genres should be offered e.g. Classical, Folk, World Music, Fusion, Bollywood, Light Music, Western including Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, Opera, Operetta, Zarzuela, Rock, Grind core, Heavy Metal, Punk, Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rap, Jazz, Electronica, Break beat, Drum & Bass, Ambient, Electro, Down tempo, Electro, House, Trance, Techno, UK Garage, Reggae, Calypso etc.

We must host in our college, graduate and undergraduate programs in musicology, evolutionary musicology, ethnomusicology, bio-musicology, music technology, zoo-musicology, music therapy, musilanguage, and music education.

Courses in Musicology (Socio-musicology, Zoo-musicology and Evolutionary Musicology): including:

Music Archeology, Music Appreciation, Introduction to Musicology, Methodology (research methods) of Music, Philology of Music, Orchestration, Counterpoint and Fugue, Acoustics of Music, Aesthetic Philosophy, Composer or Genre, Topics in Music Literature, Introduction to Music Bibliography.

Courses in Zoo musicology: including:

Fundamentals of Sound and Music of the World, World Music Theory and Musicianship, Musical Cultures of the World, World Music Performance Organizations, Psychology of Music, Experimental Research in Music, Anthropology of Music, Music of different countries, Music and Mind, Historical Readings in Ethnomusicology, Material Culture of Music, Interpretive Theories and Music.