Indian classical music. It takes a while to learn, and expertise remains a few thousand lessons away. The nuances were shaped in the courts of kings many, many years ago and what we have now is the result of centuries of change. All this makes it not just challenging but truly beyond the grasp of most of us.
Which is why the Baithak Foundation — run by the husband and wife team of Mandar Karanjkar and Dakshayani Athalye — is so crucial to classical music today. They are bringing tunes within reach of municipal schools across Pune and if you’ve ever spent time teaching anything to a room full of already-distracted little kids, you’ll know how difficult it is to keep their eyes on four strings. Mind you, Karanjkar and Athalye do need assistance and it comes from close friend, Sourabh Londhe.
Baithak Foundation was the result of a pilot project run over the weekends. “Dakshayani and I went to teach at the Babu Jagjeevanram School at Yerawada in Pune,” says Mandar. The lessons were for Classes 8 to 10, during the weekends and soon, the two had quite a following. The couple is known to use film soundtracks in the sargam form to explain the very origins of classical music. And that just caught the childrens’ attention.
“We made it more relevant. We teach them the origins of music, how sound is generated and use examples in the same manner science was taught to them. We leave out the jargon,” says Karanjkar.
Soon, the Baithak Foundation was born in the June of last year. Unable to sustain the demand, the founder trustees decided to start a fellowship programme for trained musicians willing to teach. “We offer fellowships. The selection is based on a demo and then, they are trained to conduct classes,” he adds. And Baithak has made music interesting by just talking about it. About 30 minutes of the class is spent just listening to music. “Our aim is to make sure these children, irrespective of their backgrounds, learn to love music which is such a huge part of our history,” Karanjkar explains.
Their smash-hit method will soon make it to print.
“We saw how many books are dedicated to freedom fighters. But there are not many on classical musicians. And we want to remedy that.”...