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.

Choosing The Right Location For Your Martial Arts School

Setting up your first school can be a hard task, and deciding on the perfect location is absolutely vital. MA Instructor sent Lesley Jackson out to discover the facts on how to discover the best location for you, your business and your students.

From the local park to a misty mountainside, from the Shaolin temple to a student’s garage, there is no definitive location for a martial arts business. But in this modern age of marketing and presentation, finding the perfect location for your school can mean the difference between your enterprise succeeding or folding. If you want to make a decent living from your martial art, you need to think very carefully about where you are going to have to locate your school and avoid the pitfalls that could make your business go under within its first year.

Starting Up

One of the first decisions you are going to have to make is for what purpose are you going to run your classes? Are you interested in a non-profit making community project, whereby you are able to make your living elsewhere, or do you want to make money from your martial art and run it like a profitable business? For those seeking non-profit social businesses, there is funding available in the form of grants from associations like the National Lottery and the Sport England/Scotland/Wales projects. Contact the local county council’s sport development officer for advice and consultancy, as they offer funds, investment and work space for this type of scheme.

However, for the majority of school owners, your location is going to be your biggest expenditure as you will need a place to train as well as run your school. Book some time with your small business adviser at your local bank and present him with a viable business plan, and investigate the potential for further financial aid through government schemes tailored for new aspiring social business enterprises. There are hundreds of grants available and the Department for Trade and Industry’s website is a good place to start as well as Business Link, which has information regarding financial awards both on a national and regional level. Contact details can be found at the end of the article.

Established Locations

If you are starting your school from scratch and looking for your first location, you may want to use a space that is shared throughout the community as it will be considerably cheaper than finding your own exclusive training hall. One of the best options is a local leisure center due to its already active clientèle and prime location. Most recreational centers in this country are run by local councils and they will usually have a space big enough to practice and teach martial arts which will not be expensive to hire. They also have the advantage of very good changing and parking facilities and you will have to spend less on advertising as you will already have a ready made market of physically active people who will be interested in your martial activity. If your martial art contains sparring of some kind, you may find that you will have to take out additional insurance to cover this, but this cost is easily comparable against renting your own space. The only drawback may be the time factor, as you will have to arrange your classes in agreement to the leisure center’s schedule of events.

Another option is hiring a school hall. You will have a large space that is cheap and well maintained and usually available all year round. Due to these reasons, this will probably make it one of the most popular options but you do need to consider a few points before you march into your local infant school. Choose and research your demographic area carefully. Pay careful attention to the people living in the immediate surrounding areas as this is where you will be drawing the majority of your student base. You need to target families with a disposable income level high enough to pay for lessons, gradings and tournaments, and charge accordingly in order to see your students return and remain for the long term. Unfortunately, it is a truth to assume that an area that looks run down may not be the best place to start your first business as the surrounding population will not have the disposable income to spend on what can be an expensive hobby. However, this could be a good place to start for a non-profit community project which would help to build up your reputation as a martial arts teacher. Once your reputation as a good instructor spreads, you won’t have to work so hard to find your students. Sensei Gavin Mulholland, who is a Chief Instructor of Go-ju Ryu Karate, comments that “it is up to the students to find you, not the other way round.”

Other considerations to think about when using a school hall compared to a leisure center is that you will not have the same level of footfall by being located away from the town center. Therefore, more money will have to be dedicated to marketing costs to attract your clients. This needn’t take up a large chunk of your start-up revenue but it may take up your time, so you will have to advertise in local newspaper and take the time to do a leaflet drop around a two or three mile radius of the school. Until you have an established chain of schools, people are unlikely to travel far for their first lessons and so the surrounding catchment area of your first school will dictate whether your potential business will succeed or fail.

Getting Your Own Space

Another option, or the next stage in your business plan, should be to acquire your own premises from which to run your school. Sensei Mulholland has his own dedicated space because “there is something about a genuine dojo that absorbs all the energy and feeds it back to those who train there.” Much like choosing where to live, you will have the option to either rent or buy your own space and the adage of finding a suitable location is as important for your martial arts business as it is for your house. There will be advantages and disadvantages for both and it will depend on what stage your business is at. Where you are located could spell the difference between your business making a profit or failing.

When choosing a space to rent for your martial arts school, unless you already have a loyal and supportive student base who you can rely on to travel to your school, you will need to choose somewhere in a densely populated area that is easily accessible. Although the cheapest commercial space could be a business unit on an industrial estate, unless you master a very good advertising campaign, you will not attract any footfall customers as they simply won’t find you. The luxury of having your own space will come at a price, (namely your rent, utility bills and council tax) so you must have a sufficient number of students to cover your overheads. One idea could be to lease one of the cheaper shop units in a shopping center. The rent would be less than the prime locations that the chain stores will inhabit, and you will be able to take advantage of the large amount of footfall custom that will form your customer base. Karen Vactor and Susan Peterson, co-authors of the book Starting and Running Your Own Martial Arts School, confirm that, “a good walk-by traffic will bring people into your school. It may pay for itself and then some.” You need to acknowledge that your martial arts business is as much a