An Ode to My Music Teacher


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/ode-my-music-teacher-693371.html

S RADHA PRATHI, SEP 18 2018, 23:25PM IST UPDATED: SEP 18 2018, 23:26PM IST

When my music teacher taught me the Sargam when I was a mere child, she had asked me to visualize them as a set of steps, which I had to ascend and descend. Just like the steps, the musical notes would remain static in their designated places and if I needed access over them, I had to reach out to them. She probably said it just once and may have said it to put across the point, but somehow the image has remained with me ever since. I have always imagined that each step represented a Swara.  I would step, skip, linger or bounce over them in accordance to the lessons taught. Thus I practiced Sarali varase, Genti varase, Dhatu varase and Alankaras  mentally when I paced and hopped up and down the stairs without particularly going up or down. All the jumping left me breathless especially when I tried going through them in the second and third speed. Not to mention, that I would be reprimanded for being so very restless. Now I find it amazing that I had not divulged what was going on in my mind or explained all the ascending and descending. Though the exhausting exercise did not impact the quality of my singing then, I learned the basic difference between constants and variables at an impressionable age. I was able to understand the distinct distances between musical notes which helped me hone my skills as the years passed. However what fascinates me to this day is the fact that whenever I catch myself alone on a staircase, I immediately assign them the Sargam in a raga that catches my fancy at that point of time and  hum a pattern of notes in my mind and step accordingly. In other words, I can never go past a set of stairs without thinking of music.

Interestingly, it was my music teacher who had helped me understand Algebra several years before it was introduced to me in school when she explained the concept of octaves in music. She said in passing (again) that the first note of the Sargam determined the placements of the other Swaras. Whenever, I had to find the value of “x”, in an equation, I could not help thinking of it as the “Aadhar Shadja”. Learning sets and drawing Venn diagrams was cake walk to me in school because I had been taught about complete octaves which paved way to mini ragas with  a few notes, the similarities and differences in the notes between ragas which made them distinct . I could not shake off music when I was taught   the concept of 360 degrees around a point which can be segmented. I was well aware of the raga chart akin to a pie chart into the 72 major ragas were segmented. Sums to be solved on Permutations and combinations seemed easier when I converted marbles or balloons into musical notes. I have never been able to overcome the sense of déjà vu in the mathematics classes.

When I reflect over the deep seated influence on thinking that my music teacher had over me besides helping me to learn music I realise that teachers do have the knack of influencing you for eternity!

ANIMATION DISAMBIGUATED


Published in EDUVERSE- JNANADEGULA special supplement of DECCAN HERALD on Saturday 26th May 2018

By S. RADHA PRATHI

Well, the students of the present day can dare to dream and transform their passions into their professions. If you are the kind who has not spent a day of your life without watching animated cartoons and similar shows, and have ruminated on the details and have mentally added variations to the show, you might as well consider making a career out of it.

Those of you who have creativity in your beings and have completed their board exams at the tenth and twelfth standards and have a flair for drawing can explore the world of animation through structured study. Once the basic requisites are ticked, you will need to check on your working knowledge of English, that is because, it happens to be the medium of study. There are several institutes in all the major cities of India like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum have emerged as the country’s major animation hubs which cater to the specific needs of these students for a period of six months to eighteen months depending on the module chosen by the student.

If you want to do a full-fledged undergraduate course, well, options also exist both in our country. Students have to attend a basic entrance test that checks their English language skills and arithmetical ability. A group discussion round evaluates their ability to think differently and creativity. The candidates who clear these rounds are admitted to the course.

Students who join the course will be led through the fundamental aspects of animation like using computers, drawing, sketching, model making and film making. They will be exposed to the history of the subjects and worldwide samples of classical and innovative animation. Slowly and surely the students will be taught and guided through several projects both theoretically and practically till they become industry ready.

Animation techniques are incredibly varied and difficult to                       categorize. Techniques are often related or combined. Hence the project guide of the individual student or the group takes up the responsibility of going that extra mile to help any new technique that the student may like to experiment with.

At the end of even the shortest course the institutes make sure that the students are familiar with the basic concepts of animation by making each student submit a project in place of exams. This frees prospective employers of these students of anxiety because the fundamentals imbibed during the course will help them to learn any new technique that they may have to use later on while on the job.

It is interesting to note that these students are picked up by experts and moguls in the field well before the completion of their courses as assistants and interns.

The world has realised that India has yet another talent for animation and its rich history culture and mythology has a lot more in store for the world than the eye can see. The runaway success of animated shows of Chota Bheem, Hanuman, Tenali Raman and Krishna among others has rejuvenated a renewed interest in India.  The Indian films with their special effects have not been missed by the discerning eye of the connoisseurs of the art either. This global recognition has led several Indian entrepreneurs to make mileage of the situation and as a result we have several reputed institutes like, MAAC, Arena, ANTS, Animaster, Toon School which have carved a niche for themselves in a rather short period.

Most good schools of Animation have a state of the art infrastructure, with an ultra modern production theatre with the latest equipment. The fact that the titans of the industry like Walt Disney, Imax, Warner Brothers and Sony are signing up huge contracts with Indian animation companies speaks in volumes of the impending boom in the industry.

The time has come when it has become essential for parents and teachers to analyse the latent potential of children who fill up the last pages of notebooks, their desks, the walls in their arms distance and any other canvass within their reach with sketches and doodles of incomprehensible characters. Perhaps it is time to analyse the minds that expend undue interest in cartoon shows and animated games with renewed interest and awaken the budding animation expert in them.

Multimedia in Animation:

Animation has brought many imaginary characters and stories to life. From Mickey Mouse’s endearing antics to Lara Croft’s edge-of-the-seat adventures, generations have grown up admiring this magic. In India alone, 300.000* professionals by 2008 are expected to be employed in the animation Industry. Animation Application Areas include Entertainment (Movies, Television). Business (Marketing Demos, Product Promotions), Sales (Presentations), Education (CBTs/WBTs), Tourism (Kiosks), Publishing (Graphics & Printing), Web Design, Virtual Reality for Simulations in Defense, Engineering. Advertising (Commercials, Print Ads), Interiors and Fashion Design.

  • “Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement.” In other words drawings and sketches are mobilised using technology to give it the feel of movement.
  • Students are given a lot of practice in drawing and sketching which is technically known as 2D skills. As the student progresses he or she is introduced into skills of visualizing and mastering 3D Animation, besides learning Character Design and Morphing.

 

 

 

Exploring the Road Less Travelled


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/exploring-road-less-travelled-670482.html

The lakhs of students who have cleared their tenth, twelfth grade and pre university courses from various state boards, ICSE and CBSE streams are presently in the threshold of their future. Some of them do have clear cut ideas as to how to charter their future course of action. Then there are others who   find themselves led by their noses to choose the course they have to pursue. Actually the situation reflects the mental landscape of the normal Indian student, no matter to which class of society, religion or financial bracket he may belong to. Indians as a race feel very secure when they try “the road well travelled” as there is little or no risk involved; moreover they also attach a lot of importance to the assured financial security that certain jobs offer.

Keener observation of this situation reveals that issues have not undergone even an iota of change over a couple of centuries. The value of each course has been determined on the basis of what the possible returns could be in terms of monetary benefit and social status. In an earlier era children were expected to follow the learning and profession adopted by the family. When education became institutionalized by the British most good students were goaded to become professional lawyers as it spelled a lucrative turnover. When we became independent, science courses in professional arenas became the crowning glory of an excellent student. Though the emphasis has been on different courses over the decades the basic idea behind selecting the course has invariably been the same.

The income factor happens to be only one side of the coin. The educational caliber of a person is determined by the stream of study the student opts for. Personal interest and core competency for studying the subject appear to be subject of little or no interest to the general public. What the candidate ends up doing in life is of no consequence as long as he opts for a course that steps up his standing in society.

It is an unwritten and unquestioned decree for students scoring high marks to be absorbed in the main stream or the science stream by the colleges impervious of the fact whether the student has the aptitude for the subject. The cream of the toppers opts or professional courses like medical or engineering leaving the lesser their brethren to take up lesser under graduate courses in science, commerce and arts precisely in that order. This practice has almost become a tradition in our educational system much to the chagrin of the serious students who have opted a particular course out of interest.

Though many youngsters are able to effectively put their foot down and surmount the obstacles that come in the way of choosing their favorite course not everyone succeeds. This is the reason we find a lot of educated people to be thorough misfits in their vocation. Many post graduates in subjects like Physics or Chemistry have settled down as bank managers or have found themselves plush jobs in the corporate sector as administrative staff because the remuneration is high. There are several doctors who have cleared their course in more than a few attempts working as medical transcriptionists because the package is incomparable.

When one tries to understand the underlying psyche of the Indian masses, the apparent reverence towards education and its innumerable virtues appears to be a shameful sham.

 

Education has come a long way from its original objective – an abstract wealth which will stand in good stead to its possessor through the thick and thin of his life. Perhaps that is the reason why we find that by and large most people were literate in the past and had a fairly good idea of the rudiments of language and mathematics. Scholars wrote well researched treatises on a plethora of subjects at great length. Somewhere along the line Indians shied from taking “the road less travelled by” causing a widespread stagnation in the field of education. It is certain that the future of variegated education lies in the hands of the present batch of tenth standard students who are standing at the crossroads of their lives with latent dreams, thoughts and ideas…..

 

Negotiating Skills


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Though there are a number of factors that lead to a successful negotiation, conviction and logic working as the secret ingredients, the story of Savithri, which appears in the Mahabharata, vouches for the twin features.

Savithri, the princess of Madra, married Satyavan despite being warned of impending widowhood. Satyavan passed away as predicted by Narada on the destined day in the forest. Yama, the Lord of Death, had personally come to release the noble soul of Satyavan from his body. The bewildered young wife collected herself and followed Yama much to his annoyance. He bade her time and again to go away.

When Savithri followed him tenaciously, they got into a lofty conversation which revolved around the concept of life and death. Savithri won over the Lord of Death with her earnest winning ways. She gained his trust enough to make him grant her a boon of her choice with the exception of her husband’s life. Savithri requested him to restore eyesight and lost kingdom to her father-in-law. She continued to trail behind Yama, who granted her another boon on the same lines. This time around Savithri sought that her father should father a hundred sons. Yama conceded and proceeded, only to find that Savithri was close on his heels.

Though he was thoroughly impressed by her, he told her that she could not follow him beyond a certain point; nevertheless, he granted her another boon on the very same conditions. Savithri sought that she should mother a hundred sons. When the boon was granted, she pursued Yama to his chagrin. She made it clear that she could not realise his boon without her husband. Yama was trapped by his own words. He admired the sense of logic and conviction in the young lady and breathed life back into the dead body of Satyavan.

All of us know that death is the point of no return. Savithri was able to overcome Yama; not only because she loved her husband dearly, but also was alert enough to exercise her intellect end execute it with courteous charm. Thus, Savithri laid the guidelines for effective negotiation for all times to come.

Effective Communication


Deccan herald 30th January 2018

These days we find plenty of courses that guide people into communication skills. Aspects like correct usage of language, body language, tone, clarity and confidence are emphasized in these soft skill sessions. At the end of the day people are taught to communicate pleasantly and effectively to forge successful personal and professional relationships. Hence it is no wonder that educational institutions, governmental organisations and corporate bodies do not hesitate to invest a pretty penny on honing these skills of their new recruits at all levels.

A reading of the Ramayana reveals the universal significance and the cornerstone of communication skills has remained the same right from the good old times.

Hanuman was sent as the most hopeful candidate to search for Sita because Rama was impressed by the simian minister’s intelligence, sincerity and communication skills. The emissary of Rama discovered Sita in the Ashoka Vana of Lanka. He realized that he would traumatize the doe like Sita if he appeared in front of her without notice. Therefore he narrated the story of Rama in mellifluous verse to attract her attention. The act of Hanuman construes the importance of using introductory talk as the unshakeable basis of every conversation. The fact that Sita gave him her Choodamani – the hair accessory, which happened to be her only earthly possession and proof of her existence to be given to Rama, speaks in volumes about the success of Hanuman’s ability to communicate effectively.

When Maruthi returned to Rama with the good news, he does not indulge in formalities or flowery language. Instead, he very simply hands over the Choodamani of Sita with a brief phrase that said, “Sita has been found.” The magical phrase sent a surge of joy through the being of Rama and prepared him mentally to take in the details about the disheveled and depressed status of Sita and her resolve to hold on to her life for another month till she was freed from the clutches of Ravana. Hanuman used speech as a tool sometimes eloquently and at other times briefly. He just proved that there are no hard and fast rules about the length of the talk. He had the discernment to understand that content is king in any conversation. When truth, tenor, confidence, clarity, humility and simplicity adorn the content, communication becomes complete.

Integrity and Intelligence


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/639821/integrity-intelligence.html

Life often scatters obstacles in our path. Some of us sidestep them while others overcome them. Yet, if we are riddled with difficulties from time to time, we tend to give up. A story from the Mahabharatha says that if one tackles problems intelligently and with integrity, it will stamp our success with moral satisfaction and happiness.

Princess Sukanya had to marry the old sage Chyavana whom she had blinded inadvertently. Though there was no equivalence of any sort in the marital ties, the young bride did not have any complaints. She was quite cheerful and sincere in carrying out her conjugal duties.

A couple of years later, the handsome celestial twins, the Ashwinikumaras, happened to sight the beautiful Sukanya. They were smitten by her ethereal beauty. They tried to wean her away from her marriage and make her theirs. The principled lady refused to comply to their wishes, politely, yet firmly. The demigods were struck by her loyalty to her husband despite his shortcomings. They offered to cure him and restore his youth as a reward for her steadfastness.

Sukanya and Chyavana were ready to accept a lease of normal and healthy life. Just when things seemed to fall in place, the divine twosome laid out their condition. The clause said that Sukanya could continue in her marriage if only she could identify her husband in his new Avatar. The lady accepted the challenge without batting an eyelid.

Accordingly, the sage was taken to a nearby lake by the duo. The trio immersed themselves in the waters. When they emerged, Sukanya was startled to see that the three of them were identical in every single way. She was stressed but gathered her wits and observed the threesome walking towards her. She recollected from her vast repertoire of knowledge that Godly entities never came into physical contact with earth. She noticed that only one of the three men was leaving footprints on the wet banks of the lake. She walked demurely towards her only love in life and stood by him. The Ashwinikumaras were highly impressed by her integrity and intelligence and blessed the couple a happy and a fruitful life of togetherness. Sukanya had every reason to flounder, but she chose to overcome it.

Tackle Obstacles with Integrity


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/632243/tackle-obstacles-integrity.html

Life often scatters obstacles in our path. Some of us sidestep them while others overcome them. Yet, if we are riddled with difficulties from time to time, we tend to give up. A story from the Mahabharata says that if one tackles problems intelligently and with integrity, it will stamp our success with moral satisfaction and happiness.

Princess Sukanya had to marry the old sage Chyavana whom she had blinded inadvertently. Though there was no equivalence of any sort in the marital ties, the young bride did not have any complaints. She was quite cheerful and sincere in carrying out her conjugal duties.

A couple of years later, the handsome celestial twins, the Ashwinikumaras, happened to sight the beautiful Sukanya. They were smitten by her ethereal beauty. They tried to wean her away from her marriage and make her theirs. The principled lady refused to comply with their wishes, politely, yet firmly.

The demigods were struck by her loyalty to her husband despite his shortcomings. They offered to cure him and restore his youth as a reward for her steadfastness.

Sukanya and Chyavana were ready to accept a lease of normal and healthy life. Just when things seemed to fall in place, the divine twosome laid out their condition. The clause said that Sukanya could continue in her marriage if only she could identify her husband in his new Avatar. She accepted the challenge without batting an eyelid.

Accordingly, the sage was taken to a nearby lake by the duo. The trio immersed themselves in the waters.

When they emerged, Sukanya was startled to see that the three of them were identical in every single way. She was stressed, but gathered her wits and observed the threesome walking towards her. She recollected from her vast repertoire of knowledge that Godly entities never came into physical contact with earth. She noticed that only one of the three dazzling men was leaving footprints on the wet banks of the lake. She walked demurely towards her only love in life and stood by him.

The Ashwinikumaras were highly impressed by her integrity and intelligence and blessed the couple a happy and fruitful life of togetherness. Sukanya had every reason to flounder under the circumstances, that she chose to overcome it reflects her diehard spirit.