Differentiation in carnatic music teaching and learning ...

Miscellaneous topics on Carnatic music
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Kyvalya Vocalist
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Joined: 30 Nov 2017, 07:40

#1 Differentiation in carnatic music teaching and learning ...

Post by Kyvalya Vocalist » 12 Aug 2018, 20:11

With my 18 years of experience in teaching carnatic music I personally and strongly feel that differentiation strategy is equally important in carnatic music teaching as it is in academics. I believe that my views are authentic because of the teaching and learning experiences I have with the students of different age groups. When I was working at SNIS (Sreenidhi International school) as a music teacher, I was sent for some of the works shops namely “Inquiry”, “Role of Assessment”, “Teaching and learning strategies” and “Creativity, conceptual understanding, Critical thinking”. Though it was mainly focused on the academic teachers .... looking at my enthusiasm in and understanding of the IB PYP pedagogy (IB curriculum for primary years programme), SNIS management felt that I should be sent for these workshops to implement the PYP’s philosophy in the music class room. And of course I did implement the programme in the music class.

The above glimpse of information is to prove the authenticity of this article and wanted to acknowledge the source of my writing skills/language/knowledge.

With all the above experiences I proudly share my perspectives on “Differentiation in teaching carnatic music”.

Before we move onto the core content of the article, it is important to understand what exactly differentiation is? Well, I personally see this as a strategy. Many research scholars have defined it differently. Differentiation can happen in... learning the content, process of learning, learning environment and product. (This is just a glimpse of meaning to understand differentiation) .

I disclaim that I am neither commenting against the musicians teaching group classes nor I have a tendency to do so. I am aware that some of my musician friends do teaching effectively in groups. This article is merely my personal perspective. I am neither commenting anyone nor being judgmental.

Now I share my views on differentiation in teaching carnatic music:
  • I strongly believe that any teaching and learning happens effectively with one-on-one approach. Because it is understood that each student is unique with their skills and conceptual understanding. Students should be given an opportunity to learn the skills/understand the concepts at their own pace. Someone is adept in singing with perfect sruti (pith alignment) and some one is good at laya (Talam) intricacies. Some one needs to work on both the concepts. So how can we keep all of them together and conduct class? My opinion is that, in music teaching, differentiation strategy can be implemented much effectively than the academics, if we don’t focus on giving the exams, which are having a deadline and syllabus oriented. In academic school it is not practical to implement one-on-one approach because the number of students is large.
  • If we have a syllabus oriented learning with a deadline, then implementing the differentiation in music will not always produce fruitful results. In this type of learning the Teacher’s/Student’s focus will be on completing syllabus than mastering it. I am not against to the assessment. What I meant was that the ‘assessment’ should only be treated as a tool/strategy for the teaching and learning process where the student and teacher both get to understand that where the learner exactly stands and how are the concepts gone into. To do this, no need for a dead line oriented learning. Student can learn at his/her own pace and the teacher can take formal and informal assessments.
  • Differentiation is not always for the slow learners. It is even the best strategy for the students of high caliber. In one-on-one approach, there is no waste of time for the student because the learner have a freedom to learn the subject in his/her own pace. So learning can be faster or slower. Content/concepts can be simple or complex.
  • Even in music universities this approach can be followed. The teaching strategies/tools should be designed according to the caliber of the students. Keeping various learners of various aptitudes at same place and conducting the classes can be a nightmare for both teachers and students.
  • To master carnatic music one need to achieve mastery in the core elements Sruthi (Pitch accuracy) and laya (Rhythm). The effort of mastering these elements should start from the basics learning itself. Both these elements/concepts should go hand in hand. So depending on the student’s individual capacity the exercises can be/should be designed in both the above concepts. Neither of the above concepts should be neglected.
  • I conclude saying that teacher should be keep on reflecting/altering the teaching strategies/tools whenever needed. Because it is always understood that the same strategy is not applicable to everyone. Teacher should model himself/herself as a life long learner.
Carnatic vocalist/teacher
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