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Teaching Indian Classical Music From Home

Musicians continue to produce and promote their music as much as they can, leaving music educators to accommodate their lessons like any academic teacher. With the current situation going on, many are resorting to virtual classes and group calls. 


Sandhya Ganesh is a Carnatic music teacher based in Austin, TX, teaching out of her home and hosting classes in a designated space for spirituality and music. 


“Carnatic music is one of the primary classical forms of music, based in Southern India,” she said. “Vocals are the focus, with the raga (melody) and tala (rhythm) acting as the foundation for the musical style.” 


She never imagined that she would end up teaching the music that was once a mere hobby to her, having graduated with her Master’s in Economics from Madras Christian College and being accepted to London School of Economics on a full scholarship. Gearing for capitalistic greatness, she turned to teach to make some extra money on the side. 


“My husband and I were expecting a child right after moving to America, which made me not want to take on a high-paying, full-time job,” said Ganesh. “I started teaching lessons to help out without going to a job, beginning to teach in the bedroom of our second apartment because of the lack of space.” 


What started as a means to help, turned into a reignition of passion for the art and hoards of interested students. She started off with two siblings and grew to over 90 students by the time she moved into her first house. 


“I was teaching lessons every day of the week, and all day on Saturdays,” said Sandhya. “I never expected to make an actual salary and help my kids get started on a musical journey of their own.” 


After moving to Texas, she had to leave the majority of students who she had taught for a decade. Some of them continued with Skype lessons, but she figured she would not continue teaching hereafter. 


Aside from continuing a few virtual lessons, Indian folk in the community somehow heard of her reputation and started seeking her out as a means for their children to learn some traditional forms stemming from their rich culture. 


As of right now, she has around 30 students and is keeping it condensed to avoid overworking. Charging one dollar per minute, she conducts both private lessons and group lessons. With the pandemic going on, she holds lessons on FaceTime or Skype, allowing for the students to record her for practice reference. 


“I am glad that these virtual classes can give my students something else to do except schoolwork,” said Ganesh. “They are practicing more than ever with the extra free time they have, along with doing more research on the songs they are being taught.” 


Music educators remain steadfast in trying to remain consistent during the pandemic, with their focuses lying in providing a safe space for students to musically explore and expand on their hobbies.

Hi, I'm Sanjana Iyer! I am a proud 20-year-old Indian-American, born and raised near Boston and moved to Austin, TX before high school. I graduated from Lake Travis HS in 2018 and am aiming to graduate a year in advance from UNT in 2021 with a Digital/Print Journalism degree and a double-minor in Criminal Justice and History. Traveling, singing, adventuring, nature, sports, and music are some of my greatest passions. I enjoy Kpop and Anime as well. I am a huge advocate for animal, environmental, minority, and women's rights. I am also an Isha Meditator, along with being one of the main vocalists for Sounds of Isha (Austin Branch). I tend to live by the phrase "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" and highly believe in a carefree, free-spirited yet spiritual, aware lifestyle. ~ Aspire to Inspire
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