This is why famed Carnatic singer TV Ramprasadh’s online classes on music and dance are a rage

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Besant nagar is famous for Eliot’s Beach, Astalakshmi Temple, Velankanni Church and Kalakshetra Foundation, not necessarily in that order. Music and dance are cultural activities that go around in neighbourhood temples of Ratnagiriswarar and Varasindhi Vinayaka throughout the year.

Kalakshetra colony is more tranquil and upmarket than Besant nagar. The latter has to bear the brunt of boisterous beach going crowds who throng restaurants and ice-cream parlours contributing to the chaos. But as road veers towards Aaru Padai Veedu temple there comes a small Municipal Park where streets are named after rivers such as the Ganga, Cauvery and Yamuna. There is a palpable tranquillity from a lot of trees cover and a quiet neighbourhood.

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On rare occasions you could even spot peacocks strutting on the roads. At the end of Yamuna road there is a concert hall where eAmbalam runs training for classical music, dance and yoga. This is an initiative by famous Carnatic singer TV Ramprasadh and his wife Indira Kadambi, a name to reckon in the Bharatanatyam dance circuit.

Mr Ramprasadh is a man with a mission. He is a classical singer with a solid reputation among contemporaries. More than being a performing artiste, the singer loves teaching classical music to the younger generation.

He reminisces, “I graduated in Cost Accountancy and started my career as a merchant banker. Within three years I knew I had to choose between a corporate career and music. Nature made me a musician and I can never be happy doing anything else other than music” That was twenty years ago and since then music has been his chosen career.

Right from mid-1990s Ramprasadh and his wife would spend six months in a year in United States and Europe either performing at concerts or teaching students. The singer says, “The tradition of teaching Carnatic or Bharatanatayam is one-to-one. Our students wanted these tuitions to continue even in our absence. It was their enthusiasm and initiative that forced us to take a look at the Internet.”

In 1998 Ramprasadh and his wife Indira Kadambi set up Ambalam, a centre for teaching various forms of classical art. The duo teamed up with technical experts and drew a curriculum and methodology of teaching using scientific principles. Ramprasadh says, “Classical music training is usually intuitive and here we were drawing up a syllabus and structured curriculum from the basics. We consulted the educationists and sought their expertise. We found music, dance, yoga could be taught one-to-one using technologies like Skype without loss in quality and immediate revert and real time speed.”

eAmbalam’s e-learning portal offers basic and advanced diploma courses on Carnatic vocal and Bharatanatyam. They also found yoga to be useful to musicians and engaged experts for personalized teaching. eAmbalam has produced hundreds of instructional videos built on a customised platform.

Ramprasadh explains, “There are no cutting corners here. These audio-visual teaching modules serve as classroom textbooks.”

Mr. Ramprasadh says, “Teaching music is a passion for me. The journey started in the mid-1990s when I was commissioned to teach the essentials of Carnatic music to boys and girls at school. Their ignorance stunned me, their little knowledge about our culture and music worried me.”

But can classical music stem the tide of the last 20 years’ cultural degradation? He remains optimistic, “I can’t reverse consumerism. We see ourselves as custodians of the ancient culture. We just want to keep it alive to the next generation. Technology and Internet come handy here.”

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