Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Employment Opportunities for the Music Learners

1 Introduction:

With the institutionalization of the learning of music, many students in the field of music pass out every year from different Universities and other equivalent institutes. Like everybody else, learners of music also need jobs. In fact, music is emerging as a very good career option presently. New horizons are appearing and newer employment opportunities are being created in the field of music. Besides the traditional jobs for the music learners, various kinds of new alternatives are being offered these days in the light of the changing living conditions and technological development. Previously, students of music had to be content with just two or three kinds of jobs. Either they would become the teachers of music or as performers. Not enough opportunities were available to them. But with the development of new cultural and educational circumstances, new areas have been opened for the students of music in the field of employment. This article deals with new and emerging career options for the music students.

2 Traditional career options in the field of music:

First let us see the traditional career options.

2.1 Career options during the ancient period:

If we go through the history of our music, [our music here refers to the music of the subcontinent], we will see that in the very beginning of the Vedic civilization, music had attained a very high place in our cultural aspirations. Music was considered a religious act. All social and religious happenings as well as the rituals had not been considered complete without the accompaniment of music. All the three components of music – vocal music, instrumental music and the dance – were common in our cultural ethos.

In Saam Veda, there are references of different kinds of specialists with regard to the Saamgaan, a particular singing tradition of Saam. Those musicians, who used to perform the saamgaana, had been divided in three different categories: the Udgata, the Prastota and the Pratiharta. In the singing of “Panchvidh Saam” and “Saptvidh Saam” these three categories of singing maestros would sing there specified portions.

This shows that these categories of musicians were required in various rituals and on social gatherings. These Samgatas were called as “Rikdwijas”. They had a very respectable place in the social strata. In the Gurukul, which were the schools for the learners and can be compared to the present schools, the students were taught the musical skills with special attention to the saamgaan. Though the present schools are very different from that of the ancient gurukul, but still they were the substitute to the present schools. In these gurukuls, musicians were taught the music of that period. During the period of Ramayana and Mahabharata, more career-options came into existence. To categories of Veena-maestros are mentioned in this era. These categories were Veena-Gathin and Veena-Vadin. In the same period, a special class of professional musicians called Gandharwas came into existence. Many gandharwas are mentioned in the great epics. Haha, Huhu, Narad etc can be mentioned as some of them. Kings and emperors had also been fascinated towards the learning of music. Emperors like Samudragupta, Harshvardhana, were skilled Veena-players. Playing on Veena was considered a very sacred act. Ravana knew the art of Veena-playing. When Hanuman secretly visited the palace of Ravana while he was in search of goddess Sita, he saw many musical instruments in his palace.

In this period, we find that a special category of professional musicians came into being. This category was called the Kushilavas. These musicians were not only the skilled musicians, but they were great warriors too. They were trained in many skills. They could dance, play on musical instruments and they could use many weapons too as and when required. They were a kind of a psychologist and could read the face expressions. They could easily win the hearts of all sorts of people and could collect the required information’s. These people were used as the detectives by the kings and the emperors. In Arthashastra of Kautilya, these people have been named as the Goodh Purushas.

In the era of the epics, many classes of professional musicians have been referred to. In Ramayana as well as Mahabharata, we find such classes like Kushilavas, Kinnaras, Gandharwas, Talapcharas or Talapanis etc. Here mention of Talapacharas or Talapanis would be very relevant. In fact, there was a class of musicians who assisted Tala accompanists by displaying Tala Kriyas through their hands. In Sangeet Ratnakar, with reference to 10 tala pranas, four Sashabda Kriyas as well as four Nishabda Kriyas have been mentioned which were displayed by different hand movements by the Talapcharas or the Talapanis.

In Manusmriti, professional musicians like the Kushilavas have been heavily criticized. Manu has clearly stated that the musicians can be categorized in two classes: the professional musicians and the musicians in the service of the Almighty. He has condemned the former and praised the latter.

From Natyashastra onwards, professional musicians got prominence. In the Natya, several musicians were required in order to provide the background music as well as to fulfill the musical requirements on the stage too. Bharata has clearly stated that for the background music, there would be a well-furnished orchestra, which he named as the Kutup Vinyasa. Orchestral music in the subcontinent began from hereafter.

A special professional group was also flourishing side by side with the development in music. This group was of the makers of the musical instruments. With the invention of numerous musical instruments, now it was not easy to make or repair musical instruments without the help of the skilled workers. Therefore, this group served as the workshop for the artists of music. They provided the music-lovers with the suitable musical instruments so that they could give all their attention to the upliftment of the musical skills.

From Arthashastra of Kautilya, we can find several clues about the professional status of the musicians of that time. We find the references of Ganikas, charming women who were supposed to be skilled singers and dancers and who would earn their living by publicly exhibiting their charms as well as their skills. These Ganikas had specified places to live and run their business. They used to employ professional accompanying musicians like the Veena players, the Mridangam players etc.

After Natyashastra, Vrihaddeshi of Matanga also tells us a lot about the professional status of musicians. Matanga has described two kinds of Sangeet, namely, margi sangeet and Desi Sangeet. Margi was bound by a well-devised set of rules and was performed by the Gandharvas whereas Desi was like the folk music of that period.

Music was an integral part of our folk tradition. Our traditional theatre as well as the folk theatre was full of music. During the period of Sangeet Ratnakar too, music and musicians held great importance. From this work, it looks that the profession of making and repairing musical instruments was increasing manifolds.

2.2 Medieval Period:

Although, music evolved as a career option during the ancient Vedic age, (and professional musicians like Veena Vadins and Veena Gathins were present in the society), there is no clear reference as to how they were paid or what the method of appointment was. Therefore, it is very difficult to ascertain such positions in the present circumstances. However, we are certain enough that great emperors of that age employed musicians in their courts in order to teach as well as perform.

In the story of “Nal Damayanti”, king Nal was employed as a teacher of Veena. In Mahabharata also, during “Agyaatvas”, Arjuna was appointed as the dance teacher for princess Uttara.

Samudragupta of Gupta dynasty was himself a great player of Veena. He had employed various artists in his court.

During the medieval period of history, we hear of different court musicians like Amir Khusro, Baiju Baavra, Bakshu, Gopal Nayak etc. Mughal emperor Akbar, (1556-1605), was also a great patron of music and arts. He employed many musicians and other artists in his Durbar. Tansen, the great musicians, was one of them. It is also likely that there might have been some accompanying artists. Although there is no specific reference to the accompanying artists, but it can easily be inferred that during the vocal/instrumental performances, the rhythmic accompaniment must have been there. Thus accompanying artists were required in order to provide the rhythmic accompaniment. During the dance, other melodic and vocal accompaniment was required besides the rhythmic accompaniment.

This shows that traditionally, musicians had four broad categories of jobs during the ancient as well as the medieval periods of history. These categories are:

A. Performing artists,

B. Gurus (teachers) of music.

C. Accompanying artists.

D. Makers and menders of musical instruments.

Besides these four kinds of employment opportunities, we do not find any other options for the musicians of that period. Musicians earned the livelihood just by these four options. This cannot be said a very happy situation for the musicians. That perhaps was one of the many reasons as to why general public did not show any interest in learning music during that period of history.

2.3 Modern Period:

As the Europeans, (especially the British and Germans), came to India during the modern period of history, they were fascinated by the delicacies of Indian music. They initiated research in the field of music. In the meanwhile, modern system of institutional education came into being. As this system of modern education was introduced and implemented by the British, they tried to introduce a little bit of music with the new system. School prayers, with other cultural functions became the part of institutional curriculum. Moreover, in the newly organized British army, Band masters were required. Thus, new class of musicians began to emerge. Many of our musicians took to music Bands. Many music Bands were formed in different kingly states in order to please the British rulers. Great Ustad Allauddin Khan was the in charge of one of such Bands for some time. Ustad Allauddin Khan (also known as Baba Allauddin Khan) (1862-1972) was an Indian Sarod player and multi-instrumentalist and one of the greatest music teachers of the 20th Century.

Thus, music bands became popular in India during the British Raj.

There were several changes which reformed the system of music teaching. These changes had some negative connotations, no doubt. Gurukul tradition of teaching of music collapses on account the patronage of music through Durbar of the medieval rulers. Gharana system was the first victim. Artists of different Gharanas had to look for other options as the Sultanate was taken over the British Regime. British rule never directly patronized Indian artists. However, many musicians came forward to encounter the new challenges.

Great artists like Kumar Gandharva and Pt. Bhimsen Joshi had to run away from their homes in order to continue learning music. This shows that during the period of the British, the state of music was not very good. Music was considered a profession of the lower strata of the society. It was not thought to be the profession of noble men and women. Because of all this, the masses began ignoring music.

The reason of such pathetic condition of the profession of music was that during the period of Durbars, musical compositions were filled with romanticism. The flattery of the king and romance became the subjects of musical songs. The devotional music which was going on alongside with the Durbari music, kept intact in South India and in some corners in the other regions too. However, the main stream of music, which was later called as the classical music, was full of romantic depictions. This was one of the reasons that people parted themselves from this great art.

In this era when music was losing its shine, and the followers and the appreciators of music were getting lesser in numbers, two great musicians changed the scenario. These were Pt. Vishnu Digamber Paluskar and Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. Both of them tried very hard to take music out of the pathetic situation. They created a chain of music-learning schools. Some of these music-learning centres are still running. Both of them devised a notation-system so that musical compositions might be written and preserved in the printed format. They trained the teachers for the proper teaching of music. But for their efforts, music would not have regained its lost ground. We cannot forget the contributions made by these eminent personalities.

3 New career options:

After Independence in 1947, Indian Government made music an integral part of education system. Government provided the necessary infrastructure that was required for the development of music and musicians. Thus, many new career opportunities emerged which can be classified as under:

During the ancient and the medieval periods, we have already mentioned four categories of jobs for musicians:

A. Performing artists,

B. Gurus (teachers) of music.

C. Accompanying artists.

D. Makers and menders of musical instruments.

Modern period of the history of music of the Subcontinent saw phenomenal changes in all the dimensions. In this period, notation systems were designed to write musical compositions in the print media. Audio/video recording facilities were invented, which had a great impact on our music. The invention of radio marked an era of broadcasting and the television further increased its capacity. The arrival of movies with speech output, paved the way for movie melodies and later on, it opened the field of popular music. Presently, we call it Indi-pop. We have seen the impact of computer on our music. All these happenings opened new career options for the learners of music.

Previously mentioned four categories of employment have evolved to an extent that more and more jobs are being offered to the learners of music through them. We have integrated music in our school as well as college system. Post-doctorate fellowships are being offered in the field of music research. Moreover, more and more music institutes are coming into being providing more opportunities for teaching of music. Branches of Gandharwa mahavidyalaya and Prayag Sangeet Samiti are all over India. Indira Kala Vishva Vidyalaya (Khairagarh) has been dedicated especially for music studies. Other private institutes include various music academies. One of such music academy is run by ITC (Indian Tobacco Company) in Kolkata, West Bengal. Sangeet Natak Akademy, run by the government of India, encourages various projects and fellowships in the field of music.

Besides this, some of the new career options are:

A. As an artist in TV and Radio:

Presently, Aakashvani and Doordarshan provide good job opportunity for the artists of music. We can choose to be the programme executive or staff artist in different centers of Aakashvani.

B. Orchestral groups:

One can form an orchestral group or music band and can perform independently for private programmes.

C. Job prospects in the Bollywood world:

We can refer to some big names like Pt. Ravishankar, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma; Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan etc. these personalities did not have to search for employment in the film industry because they were already established performing artists. They were distinguished celebrities in their respective fields. Therefore, it will not be proper to say that they came to the film industry in search of career options. In fact, most of the times, these personalities were contacted by people in the film industry in order to give a new dimension to their films. Sometimes, these people came to films in order to make new experiments in the field of musical compositions. On the other hand, many ordinary musicians have been and are coming to the Bollywood in order to earn a living. This great entertainment industry offers a great opportunity to the artists of music – vocal or instrumental music alike.

Musical instruments like flute, guitar, santoor, different kinds of drums, different categories of violins, sitar, sarangi etc. are in demand constantly. Proficient of these musical instruments have ample opportunity of jobs here. Moreover, music composers are also required to compose music for different feature films as well as the documentary films.

D. Advertising industry:

Although the film industry or the Indian cinema is the biggest institution with regard to the world of entertainment, but other agencies like the advertisement agencies, the cable TV networks, National Films Division, various production companies engaged in preparation of TV features for different TV channels etc. also play a great role in providing employment to musicians of different backgrounds.

Jingles for numerous advertisement agencies provide the alternative opportunities of employment. Those who somehow, do not get opportunity in the world of cinema directly try their luck in the advertising industry and get some space to survive and struggle for their success in cinema. Advertising industry is very much related to the world of cinema. These two industries apparently, complement each other. Many actors and actresses, who generally work for the films, can also be seen in different advertisements on TV and other forms of the media. Likewise, many singers give their voice to the jingles recorded for different advertisement agencies. Famous playback singers like Kailash Kher, Alka Yagnik etc. have fluently given their voices in many such ads. In the ever-increasing consumerism, the advertising industry is growing at a great pace. Numerous big as well as small advertisement agencies have mushroomed in different cities of the subcontinent. These agencies employ many musicians in order to compose and playback music. These prove to be multipurpose artists.

E. Music journalism:

There are many newspapers and magazines who employ cultural correspondents. We can opt for such employment opportunities. Music students, who have also a degree in journalism, are preferred for such posts.

F. Music Therapy:

Music can be used as a tool for a happy and a healthy life. Presently, dance and music have been used as alternative medical therapies in order to have a good health without using harmful drugs. We are aware of the fact that music can affect the growth of plants in a positive manner. We are also in knowledge of the fact that more and more doctors are advising their patients to include music-listening in their lifestyles. Nada Center of T. Sairam is running many courses on music therapy.

G. Dance therapy:

Likewise, dance therapy is also getting popular these days. Dance is the most fundamental of the arts, involving direct expression through the body. Thus, it is an intimate and powerful medium for therapy. Dance therapy (also called dance/movement therapy) is the use of choreographed or improvised movement as a way of treating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical problems. Throughout the ages, people of many cultures have used dance to express powerful emotions, tell stories, treat illness, celebrate important events, and maintain communal bonds. Dance therapy harnesses this power of movement in a therapeutic setting and uses it to promote personal growth, health, and well-being.

Dance as therapy came into existence as a marriage of sorts between modern dance and psychiatry. It was pioneered by Marian Chace (1896-1970), who studied dance in New York City before establishing her own studio in Washington, DC, in the 1930s. Because Chase's dance classes provided unique opportunities for self-expression, communication, and group interaction, psychiatrists in Washington began sending patients to her.

By the mid-1940s Chase was giving lectures and demonstrations, and other professional dancers soon followed her lead, using dance to help people with an array of emotional, mental, and physical problems. It was not until 1966, when the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) was founded, that dance therapy gained professional recognition. Today the ADTA has nearly 1,200 members in 46 states and 20 countries around the world.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Music: The Invisible Effect

Welcome address to freshman at Boston Conservatory

Delivered By

Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division

at Boston Conservatory.

"One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school she said, "you're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment.

Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us.

Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp.

Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."

On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost. And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again.

And then I observed how we got through the day.

At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble.

We didn't play cards to pass the time, we didn't watch TV, we didn't shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang "We Shall Overcome".

Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic.

The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of "arts and entertainment" as the newspaper section would have us believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival.

Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heart wrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there's some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music?

What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn't happen that way.

The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St.

Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?"

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this: "If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies.

I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives."