At the formal level
Music is compulsory for the first seven years of a pupil’s life in the Vidyalaya from 3+ (Pre-school) to 11+ (Class V).
In the critically important years between 3+ and 5+ children are exposed to music everyday. This programme is not confined to the more common set of songs or nursery rhymes sung in the traditional fashion.
Rather the young ones are trained to differentiate simple notations (alankar), rhythm (laya), and beats (tala). Our Pre-school orchestra of four-and -five-year olds include eight simple instruments such as dholak tambourine, triangle, jhunjhuna kartal, cymbals, dandia and the most ancient of rhythm ‘instrument’ clapping.
Between the ages 11+ and 13+ pupils are offered Music as one of the options. Those choosing to pursue Music at this stage master ragas, talas and are knowledgeable about our musicians of today, a brief history of Hindustani and Carnatak styles. They also build up a good collection of different types of songs.
For those opting for Music at the advanced stage of Class IX and X under the 10+2 system, the emphasis is on the theory of Music. The standard that they attain is that of a diploma from reputed Music Academies.
At the informal Level
At the informal level (and it is this that gets our fifteen hundred strong soaked in this tradition), among other things, is the morning assembly that consists of:
- a stuti
- a song
- a community shloka
The ‘stuti’ may be in Sanskrit or Hindi and is invariably sung (rather than recited) by a special trained choir. The song may be a bhajan, a seasonal song, a patriotic song, a folk song, an inspiring song expressing a beautiful thought or a philosophy, Rabindra sangeet, etc. Songs may be in Hindi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujrati, Assamese, Pahari, Marathi, Rajasthani, Malyalam, Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit etc.
The community Shloka with which we end the assembly is usually a thought expressed in four lines, sung by the entire school as one and rendered in simple music.
- In winter the entire school participates in mass PT which is rhythmic.
- The School Choir meets once a week for a full hour.
- The Orchestra Club also has weekly meetings.
- There is a very active Folk Dance Club where pupils learn Raas, Garba, Giddha and folk dances of Bengal, Maharashtra and the hills as well as of tribal communities.
- In the C.A. Programme of each class, well over half the items are musical or depend heavily on music.
- Our music teacher rise to the occasion when we celebrate regional or community festivals such as Pongal, Christmas, Guru Nanak Jayanti, the Parsee New Year. On such occasions, children sing traditional songs or say the prayers in the language of the region or the community – be it Tamil, Urdu, Persian, Punjabi, Gujrati or hymns and carols for Christmas.
- We keep inviting professional musicians or dancers for lecturer demonstrations and concerts. Some of those who have come to our Vidyalaya include: Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Prof. Krishnan, Shubha Mudgal etc.
- Groups of folk dancers from different parts of the country present their varied and rich regional fare to our pupils whenever possible, which is quite often.
- Among the nationally known classical dancers who have performed at the Vidyalaya are Late Pandit Durga Lal, the Jhaveri Sisters, Sonal Man Singh, Bharati Shivaji, Kiran Sehgal, Radha and Raja Reddy, Leela Samson, Geeta Chandran etc.
- Notable musicians and theatre veterans have conducted workshops for our pupils and/or trained them for an occasion.
- All this emphasis on musical heritage does not confine the exposure to only the traditional forms. Movement, western music and theatre music (Rang Sangeet) too have been presented to our young audience.