The Dhvani Music School uses an approach to Carnatic music learning which blends the best of the traditional gurukula system with a more modern educational institution approach. The DNA of this approach is derived from Dr. Padma Sugavanam’s own educational experiences, which included traditional gurukula education as well as acquiring and imparting music education in the music departments of Indian and American Universities.
Indian classical music is rightly referred to, as rāga music. The Dhvani School considers a holistic comprehension of rāga-ness to be central to learning Indian classical music. The conventional approach to teaching Carnatic music involves exercises, usually in rāga MāyāmāỊavagauỊa, followed by gītams, svarajati-s, jatisvaram-s, varṇam-s, kṛti-s and so on. While adopting the best practices in this conventional approach, the Dhvani School will take a different approach to give students the opportunity to absorb the rāga in depth, and express their internalization of rāga-ness in their music.
The Dhvani School’s curriculum is designed to take students through a sustained journey for each rāga – with exercises, compositions, varṇam, kṛti etc. ensuring an in-depth coverage of the rāga, before moving to the next rāga. The process of developing rāga-nesscan be likened to developing muscle memory – by the time the student goes through this journey, the notes, movements and graces (gamaka-s) of the rāga get well-set in the mind, as well as the voice. Learning a few rāgas this way will lay a solid foundation and equip the student to pick up and handle many more rāgas with ease. As the mental algorithms for working with rāgas gets trained and sharpened this way, the student will see that the pace of learning quickens naturally, and their ability to work with new rāgas can be developed with great felicity.