Music therapy for children

Music therapy for children

The benefits of music were verbalised in the Western world as early as in the times of Aristotle (385-322BC) who said "when we hear music and poetry, our very soul is altered." In the Eastern world, music has been dealt with extensively in texts dating to much earlier times. For children, listening to music undeniably helps accelerate brain development particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, helping in language cognition, speech perception and later, reading skills. Studies show spatial reasoning is enhanced too, which is related to skills to do math and fine motor coordination.

As such, it is quite surprising that more educational institutions do not enforce good level music study for children for at least 6 years, from the primary level onwards. Swami Dayananda Saraswati Educational Trust in Manjakuddi Tamil Nadu, 30 kms from Kumbhakonam has taken the lead in organising expert Carnatic classical music lessons weekly for nearly 300 children, from 4 educational institutions that it runs in the area.

The children are taught in batches all day every Friday; the teachers are disciples of "Nightingale of the South" Bombay Jayashri, who every Thursday night travel to Manjakuddi from their homes in Chennai to sing with the children, whose ages range from 6-18 years. Shweta Sriram shared "we love going to Manjakkudi weekly and in fact fight with each other to go! As we get down from the night train at Kumbhakonam station, we are greeted by the sight of a large peepul tree, full of dancing chirping parrots and sparrows; its so glorious! I think of Manjakuddi as a "diya" lit by my Guru, Jayashri Akka, which we all help keep lit" Vijayshri Vithal concurred "its just so uplifting to be there."

Teaching instruments is a logistic problem as its impossible to provide enough instruments to practise on; each batch comprises 50-60 children. However, the children have had mridangam lessons; mridangam maestro Delhi Sairam has traveled to the village several times to teach the kids how to recite "mridangam" bols. His wife Chaitrra said "even during the pandemic period we have sent weekly recordings to the music teachers of the 4 institutions in the hope that these reach the kids, so that their interaction with music does not stop."

Bombay Jayashri has tried to travel once a month to Manjakkudi to review the progress of the kids. This has been going on for 7 years; "one can definitely see the benefits of the music training. One child told me she sings to her mother in the evenings and it helps alleviate her headache!! If each of these 300 children share their interest in music with their future families, the ripple effect of our teaching will reach thousands. I am particularly gratified that the region is so much in the interior of the state, and the exposure of the kids to city experiences is limited. I am grateful we have been allowed to do this; thanks to Swami Dayananda Saraswati School. I think it has made a difference to these kids."

An attempt to raise funds to build a small dedicated centre for the children of Manjakuddi is underway; Milap is handling the logistics, and are accepting donations at, fundraiser for Swami Dayanand Centre for Learning, Manjakuddi. The foundation stone of the Centre is planned to be set on January 25th, 2021. Definitely, this is a cause worth donating to.

Next Story
Share it