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Mind the audience, says flautist B.K. Anantha Ram
Flautist B.K. Anantha Ram hails from a family of musicians. He had his first lessons in music from his mother A Rajamma Keshavamurthy, a well-known vocalist. Later, Anantha Ram took to flute and learnt from C. M. Madhuranath, B.N. Suresh, M. R. Doraisvvamy and Anoor Ramakrishna. After initial training from them, he perfected it under master flautist Dr. N. Ramani.

The Government of India recently awarded him the Senior Fellowship on a project called Karnataka Venu Parampare. He also runs Vamshi Academy of Music Trust, which conducts cultural programmes to promote classical music (both vocal & instrumental). In an interview to Sudha Jagannathan, he talks on very many issues.

Of late, you don't find many rasikas for instrumental music. What is your view?
Answer: No, this is not true. Many people are interested in learning instruments for their melody. And, there is no need to bother about sahitya.

If an instrumental musician were to attract a larger audience, what should he/she do?
Answer: One has to take care of the audience, who are present at the programme. An artiste has to select the songs in such a way that they appeal to the music lovers. Also, the artiste has to work within the possibilities of a particular instrument. Flute should be played like a flute and not as a veena. One can, however, consider some of the sangathis and adopt them in the instrument he or she is playing. Vocalisation of the instrument is very important. The artiste should know the sahitya bhava, so that he or she can present it in a better way.

Is it correct to say that the scope is very limited for an instrumental musician to attract rasikas?
Answer: No, it is not true. It is very much depended on the creativity of an artiste. An artiste can present it in a better way by involving other instruments also along with the instrument with which he/she is involved.

What kind of an audience comes for instrumental music - learned ones or all?
Answer: Everyone likes the instrumental music.

Unlike vocal, instruments don't have a language barrier. Is it an advantage or a disadvantage?
Answer: It is an advantage because it will be non-controversial. More over, people like to enjoy the melody of a particular instrument.

The wind instrument like flute - not many people are learning. Why?
Answer: Nowadays, many people are learning flute. Earlier, there weren’t many teachers. Also, they were reluctant to teach many youngsters because of their narrow mindedness. I am not saying all the flautists were like that. But there were some. Secondly, flute is a difficult instrument to learn, especially in the beginning. One should have good patience to stay with the guru and follow his advice in a very dedicated manner. I am teaching for nearly 60 students of various age groups. Many female artistes are now interested in learning flute.

What is needed to become a good flautist?
Answer: First of all, it requires a good blowing. This will be bestowed on us by the Supreme. Only a few will have it as God's gift. With a good blowing, an artiste can attract the audience in a better way. Fifty per cent of the playing will appeal to the lovers for its blowing. If you had keenly observed the blowing of Shri Mahalingam, an all time great - he gave such a solo status for the flute.

How important lyrics are for flute-playing with expression?
Answer: Definitely lyrics play a vital role in any instrument. By possessing the knowledge of sahity bhava, one can present the instrumental playing in a lovely manner. First of all, the artiste has to enjoy his/her own playing.

How eager are youngsters to learn flute?
Answer: Nowadays, the interest is more among the youngsters to learn the flute. This is because of its soothing sound and melody. Everyone need not be a great flautist. They can also be a very good connoisseur of music.

What is the difference in the teaching methodology adopted by your school?
Answer: Being a student of the great Mali school, the sweet blowing is an edge compared to others. Also, I have learnt vocal music in the beginning from my mother Vidushi A. Rajamma Keshavamurthy. As she is a great vocalist of our State, it has helped me a lot in teaching flute.

What is the objective of your flute school?
Answer: My objective is to give a better stage for young, upcoming and veteran artistes, train at least 200 flautists and give a sense that flute playing is very easy. In that direction, I have released nine volumes of flute teaching VCDs. By playing these, anybody can learn the art of flute playing even in my absence as they contain direct teaching methods. Also, the school is keen to train connoisseurs of music to gain awareness about carnatic music. A unique programme is being conducted all over the State - in residences, schools and colleges. The programme is called `Maneyangaladalli Sangeetha Satsang’. Under the programme, I have a plan to train nearly 10,000 audiences. My dream is to see at least 500 people in the audience in any carnatic music concert - not merely 10 to 15 music lovers.

What kind of students come to your school?
Answer: All types of people come to our school for learning flute.
Software engineers, doctors, IAS officers, housewives and even children come here. Some of them come to learn flute and view flute-playing as one of the best methods of good breathing, which is like doing Pranayama.
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