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Children’s Special 2023: 3 initiatives that are making music fun for kids

Through inventive methodologies and mentoring by big names, these initiatives have been making music accessible to children

Young Manipuri folk drummers at this year’s Bhoomija’s Jackfruit Festival.
Young Manipuri folk drummers at this year’s Bhoomija’s Jackfruit Festival. (Virginia Rodrigues)

In a recent conversation, Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam had remarked on the increase in the number of children attending music concerts. “It’s a good trend,” she had said. While there are music schools and online initiatives that tutor children in music, be it Indian classical, Western classical or instrumental, there are a handful that use inventive methodologies and access to some of the best mentors. Lounge spotlights three such platforms, which have been working in this field for over a decade: the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SaPa), headquartered in Bengaluru; The Dharavi Dream Project (TDDP) in Mumbai; and the Bengaluru-based Bhoomija’s Jackfruit festival, a music festival “for and by kids”.

Also read: An eclectic music calendar

Bhoomija's Jackfruit Festival
“Learning music is a lonely pursuit that begins early in life,” says Gayathri Krishna, founder and managing trustee of Bhoomija. For her, the festival, held annually around the months of June-September, is an opportunity for children, aged 6-16, who are training in various forms of Indian music, to come together, learn from maestros and perform on a big stage. “The percussion ensemble presentation, Kamaal Dhamaal, in this year’s edition in September was spearheaded by tabla exponent Aneesh Pradhan. We had 38 kids coming from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Manipur, West Bengal and Goa, besides Bengaluru. Seeing all of them perform together was an unforgettable experience,” she says. Dnyaneshwari Ghadge, 12, has fond memories of the festival. “I was scared but also happy that I got to learn from Shubha Mudgalji (who was festival director),” says Ghadge, a class V student at the Rainbow International School in Thane, Maharashtra.

The Dharavi Dream Project  
The initiative started in 2014, when some young Dharavi rappers requested the late Samir Bangera, co-founder and managing director of the digital content agency Qyuki Digital Media in Mumbai, “to give them some space to practise their art form”.“I remember him telling us that these boys were singing about circumstances that were similar to those that inspired rappers from the Bronx, so why not help them?” says Dolly Rateshwar, who co-founded the initiative with Sushant Yattam and Tejashree Pol. Today, the project runs an evening school (#AfterSchoolofHiphop) where students are given free lessons in six core components of hip hop: rapping, breaking, graffiti art, emceeing and skateboarding.

Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts in Schools 
The idea of making music an integral part of school curricula is what drove musicians and siblings Bindu and Ambi Subramaniam to start the SaPa in Schools programme in Bengaluru in 2014. Bindu and her 140-member team have been working on changing the general lack of interest in music education in schools by presenting Indian classical music in an accessible format. “When you make learning classical music easy and fun, and foster a setting where no answer is wrong and no question silly, kids will fall in love with it,” says Bindu. Currently, SaPa’s National Education Policy-compliant curriculum is being taught to 30,000 students in the country.

Also read: London's Pointe Black ballet school aims to break racial barriers


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