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Don't rush kids to concert stage, pleads veena vidushi Kalpakam Swaminathan
Veena vidushi Kalpagam Swaminathan was given away the "Veena Seshanna" award at a function in Bangalore on July 20, 2008. After returning to Chennai, she shared with her feelings about getting the award and her award-acceptance speech at the function. Shri N. Murali, President of Music Academy, Shri Mysore V. Subramanya, a great grandson of Veena Seshanna, and other eminent personalities from the music world attended the function. She also gave an hour-long concert on the occasion.

The concert also comprised two compositions of Veena Seshanna. One was in raga Darmavathy and the other a tillana in Chenjuruti. Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan said that she felt much elevated when Shri Subramanya heaped praise on her for her dedicated devotion to music. She had by-hearted a couple of Veena Seshanna kritis in a short span of time.

Shri Subramanya paid encomiums to the veena vidushi as she played so well sitting in a padmasana at the ripe age of 87. Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan said she had frankly expressed her views while giving her award-acceptance speech. Children, she said, should not be rushed into concerts. They should not be hurried to sing in TV, Radio and concerts. Parents, she felt, should have patience and wait for an appropriate time for sending their kids to concert stage. Just the way attichuvadi and vocabulary were taught in the beginning stage, swaravali, jantai, alamkaram and geetham were taught to students, she said. Varnam and kirtanai formed advanced lessons in music, she added. Students had to be well trained in basic lessons first and further perfect themselves in advance lessons before venturing into concert idea. To learn all these, considerable time was required. Even more tough was the manodarma sangeetham or the creative music, she said. ``It is learnt through one's own experience in music and not through others. An artiste's creativity will grow only after learning a lot of kritis in a raga. A musician will be able to sing kalpanaswaras and the raga bhavam also will develop. On the contrary, if the raga and swaras are learnt from others, it will become composed music or kalpitha sangeetham. It won't be one's own creativity,'' asserted Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan.

To overcome this, she emphasized the need for a strong foundation. In this context, she had come out with her own format for arengatram or the maiden concert for the children.

The children should be made to sing in front of vidwans at each stage, she said. Vidwans could pinpoint their mistakes on the spot. In the first stage, they could demonstrate on stage their prowess in the basics - from swaravali to alamkaram. The next stage could see them exhibit their talent in geethams and swarajathis. Varnam and kirtanai could form the next stage. If this technique was adopted, the children would be better placed. This would lay a strong foundation for them, she said. ``They will gain more confidence,'' she pointed out. If an artiste sang a raga without proper gamakam or presented a kriti without bhava, one would find fault with the foundation, she said.

Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan said that the sabhas and others were not to be blamed for not giving veena artistes prime slots. "We have to rectify our errors. Then only can we blame the sabhas if chances are not given," she said. ``Why Goddess Saraswathi is holding a veena instead of a mandolin or other instruments? It is because veena is such a divine instrument and the art of veena-playing is not that easy,'' she pointed out. If ragas such as Malahari, Kalyani and Anandabhairavi were played in veena in plain notes without gamakas, they won't appeal to the listeners. ``Even the basic lessons such as swaravali can be played with gamakas. That will give an enriched presentation to the whole exercise,'' she said. She regretted that some patantara didn't give importance to tala in the beginning stage of veena playing. ``Tala is essential while playing veena in all three speeds,'' she explained. Expressing her views on Tiruvaiyaru festival during Saint Tyagaraja Aradhana, Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan felt that flute, veena, violin, gottuvadya, mandolin and other instrument players could play the swara part and the sahitya could be handled by vocalists. In this way, the rendering of pancharatna kritis could be made more enjoyable, she pointed out.
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