Digital reform arrives in classical music studies

Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal (ABGMVM) become a pioneer of digital reform in classical music studies

June 3, 2018
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The relevance of digitalization is unquestionable across most of the industries. With massive use of the digital platform in schools and universities, the Indian education system has made large-scale reform by various digital initiatives in the education sector. While it has led to many innovations in the sector, digitization presents its problems as well. Exposure to western culture on social media is resulting in youngsters – who are emerging with very little to no knowledge of their culture and art. Now, who can blame them when there’s very little effort shown to push art and classical music studies in India, to begin with?

While the administrative work from every corner of the world has moved from paper to your computer screen, so far – Indian classical music studies have made little to almost no efforts towards digitization of their system. The pioneer institute of classical music studies in India is still not over from blocks of paperwork and manual process, which is gradually leading to low population in cultural and classical music studies. Besides this, following the difficulties faced due to manual work in the system teachers, examiners either discontinue the process or adopt wrong practices to make their work easy.

Considering the above situation, one must be thinking that if this continues, the future of classical music studies will soon ground into darkness. But not anymore, Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal (ABGMVM) has become a pioneer of bringing a digital reform in classical music studies. The renowned Mandal dedicated for the promotion and propagation of Indian Classical Music and Dances will soon start with its E-form for the examination process. ABGMVM has upgraded its system to cater students and teachers from remote area facing difficulties to contact centre through a manual process.

Prof. Madhav Vasekar

“From past many years, we were in talks on diverting most of our administrative process to the digital platform, especially for teachers and students who are dedicatedly promoting Indian classical studies in remote areas. Considering the urgency of such reform, we have issued the tender for our pilot project on online examination form and soon we will introduce the E-form for admission and tutor registration also,” said Prof. Madhav Vasekar, Vice President – ABGMVM & Convener-Sangeet Shikshan Parishad,  in Vashi, Navi Mumbai.

From July 1st, the exam forms will be available on the official website of Gandharva Mandal (www.abgmv.org). As a pilot project, the Mandal has introduced the Avedan Patra (Application form) for students appearing for Visharad (Degree programs) Alankar (Post- graduation programs), Sangeet Acharya (Doctorate Programs) Exam. Soon, Mandal will start training of their tutors and staff who will be guiding students through the online process.

Vasekar added, “After receiving numerous complaints from parents about people charging extra money for the exam forms, we think that it’s high time to address this issue with an enduring solution. The E-form will carry enclosed details about fees while the entire digital upgradation is our united move to ensure transparency in the system.”

While ABGMVM seems utterly ready for digital reform, it levels up the anticipation amongst teachers and students hoping best of the digital reform.

All the teachers and center managers while appreciated the initiative of Mandal, some came up with the suggestion that till the time all levels are offered E-forms, downloadable forms for junior classes may be a good option to avoid use of physical forms which comes from Mandal to centers and later collected by teachers, distributed to students and again sent to Mandal via same route. A downloadable form at least can reduce half of the energy, time and resources.

Speaking with ClassicalClap Vineeta Srinandan, a Bharatanatyam teacher at Surbhi Academy of Art, Navi Mumbai has shared her experienced about wrong practices happening during examination process due to lack of transparency. “Two years ago, I had been to an exam centre as an examiner. I was shocked to see that a girl who had only completed Madhyama Poorna was performing Nattuvangam for her student appearing for Praveshika Pratham exam. Though she is not qualified as a tutor and has an invalid signature on the student’s exam form, and yet, somehow she has managed to run her class and was able to make her students appear for the examinations. Since many years, such practices have been affecting the quality and credibility of classical studies. I am confident that through digital reform, the problems will be curbed in one swoop.”

Rajashree Oak

Rajashree Oak

Rajashree Oak, a kathak tutor and an ABGMVM examiner and paper setter said,“Considering a large number of students in kathak, the online process will definitely prove to be a reliever for center coordinators as well as the teachers. All the extra load and due to manual work and chances of human error will be eradicated as things like form-filling and fees payment shift to the online system. But then again, there needs to be proper coordination between the triangles of the Mandal, the Centre and the students. Especially in the case of Visharad, where in case of less number of overall students, you get transferred to the other Centre. I hope to see this development  with the first five exams and Visharad as well.”

Neethi Nair

Neethi Nair, a registered Bharatanatyam Teacher with ABGMVM said, “Definitely it will be of great help to teachers like me who have to travel long, considering the convenience of centre head, to collect the forms then go again to submit. Online exam forms will be highly convenient.  If at all Mandal can conduct online written exam at least for students of visharad level, it will be highly appreciated, as students who reach visharad level either are from higher classes academically or some are even working, they at times find it difficult to go to the center.”

Radhika Sridharan

“Mandal should have the rules online. When an examiner conducts exam, there are times that they go out of syllabus. The teachers are always worried if they should complain or not. If the rules are online, then the teacher’s can always refer back and in case required can Lodge a complain too. Also, the age required for each exam is never told clearly. If Mandal can put all this in place and keep updating these details on their website, it will make our lives super easy,” said Radhika Sridharan, a Bharatanatyam dancer and center manager from Rdanceschool, Bangalore.

“It is very difficult to manage paperwork manually. We have to run pillars to post around centres for even small work. A lot of students discontinue their classical studies because of such tedious work. Online reform in classical studies will be a big relief”, said Kaidar Kendraykar, a student of Sangeet Acharya (Doctorate Programs) in ABGMVM.

Piyush Raj

“It is a good initiative from Mandal, especially with this tech-savvy, it helps youth to get comfortable with classical studies. I hope, from filling the form till it’s submission the E- form initiative turned out to be a user-friendly process rather than a complex and length work,” said Piyush Raj, a Kathak teacher at Natanam Studio For Performing Arts, Mumbai.

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