Indian Classical Music Goes Web 2.0

Clood On Musica Pvt. Ltd.
Music enthusiasts can now learn Hindustani and Carnatic music at singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan’s online music academy.

For a man who started his career as a software engineer before turning to singing and composing music, his professional life seems to have come full circle. Shankar Mahadevan has recently brought together his IT know-how and his love for music.

Mr. Mahadevan, best known for his work as a film music composer, teamed up with a college buddy from his engineering days, Sridhar Ranganathan, to start an online music academy which will offer certificate program in Indian classical music and non-certificate courses in Bollywood, devotional and folk singing.

Students can choose to specialize in either Hindustani or Carnatic music. The focus for both is vocal but include classes in the theory and history of the respective musical traditions too. Students can enter at beginner, intermediate or advanced level and also have the option of signing up for individual courses.

Mr. Ranganathan is the founder of Clood On, a provider of learning management software that set up the online venture with Mr. Mahadevan.

Registrations are now open and the first class will start March 3 – which is also Mr. Mahadevan’s birthday. “It has always been my dream to connect music to the masses. My dream has been to leave behind a legacy by making high-quality Indian music education accessible to anyone who wants to learn”, said Mr. Mahadevan, a three-time winner of India’s highly-coveted National Film Awards.

For the time being, however, courses are only open to students based in the U.S. Organizers hope to eventually open the academy for enrollment from India as well. Factors including low-speed internet, power failures and poor internet penetration means the academy’s founders will have to adapt their approach to the Indian market. “We will launch a different format for the academy in India shortly”, said Mr. Mahadevan. “We are also exploring the possibility of combining both online and offline classrooms for India”, added Mr. Ranganathan.

Preparations first started in late June last year. “A series of pre-pilot projects were conducted to test the pedagogy concepts of the academy, different age groups, the curriculum and technology scaling,” Mr. Ranganathan said. The academy will use videoconferencing software and an online music book, among other things. Students can also record their “riyaaz,” or practice, which can be reviewed by the teacher to help students identify and improve the nuances of their singing.

For a 12-week course, students pay about $240. The classes, which take place once a week in different time slots, last for half and hour each.

Mr. Ranganathan feels that in the U.S., where he spent many years, there is a vacuum when it comes to classical Indian music. “There is a large Indian Diaspora that wants to be connected to India through music but there are structural gaps such as the availability of high-quality teachers,” he said.

For many young music enthusiasts, Mr. Ranganathan said, an added problem is often the physical distance: parents may not always have the time or the inclination to drive their children to music school. They hope the online format will be a major draw for parents who will be able to encourage their children to hone their musical skills without having to leave their house.

Students who enroll in the academy will have the opportunity to be taught by the likes of Carnatic singer Padma Shankar, Hindustani vocalist Sawani Shende and Radha Vishwanathan.

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    • It appears that Shankar’s name is being used as a brand name and the classes are actually taught by others (who, I’m sure, are wonderful teachers) Fortunately, we do have a fantastic set of Hindustani and Carnatic teachers in the bay area (San Francisco) and this attempt seems to be only consolidated distance learning for a few teachers – if Shankar was directly teaching, it would be appreciated a lot more here.

      but I’m sure there are other places in the US, where people aren’t as fortunate as we are (of having good classical teachers) and this might be of better value there.

    • @Raja
      Happy that you asked this. This is truly Shankar’s Academy- an extension of his values , beliefs and ingenuity.
      Look at the his intro video and you can easily see that the passion is palpable. Shankar is involved in the Curriculum design, Teacher Selection, OMBook Concepts .. et all. All Curriculum heads are hand picked by Shankar. Watch out for U.S Roadshows where you can meet Shankar. The first one is on 6th March in Washington D.C.

    • This is an on-line course taught by someone else. Not that these teachers are any less credible, but is Shankar Mahadevan’s involvement is only as “Brand Name”

    • One of the most welcome step to train youngsters beyond thinking of earning for self is a ttep in to the new horizon by Shankar Mahadevan.

      So many love Shankar Mahadevan for his contribution. I had opportunity to meet & enjoy his live performance I found him 1+ in many ways, hence I truly respect him..

      Thanks WSJ for sharing such inspirational information as NEWS !

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