By Bala Shankar
A salutary development today is the deluge of good gurus in the scene. In addition to reputed schools like those of the two Sugunas, PSN, Vedavalli, Parur, Lalgudi, and TVG, the contribution from currently active performers like Ravikiran, Sowmya, Sanjay, Vijay Siva, Santhanagopalan, TM Krishna, and Vittal Ramamurthy in grooming talent is laudable, given their demands on time.
These trends are creating a large pool of young talent. Some will make the grade as performers and others, as always, can be knowledgeable and critical listeners. Thus the new performer-audience ecosystem is well and truly getting fashioned. New talents need nurturing from a seasoned guru on both the dos and the donts of music. A good guru is supposed to have many facets – prime among them the ability to calibrate the learning process to suit the learning styles and pace of students. Today’s youngsters are clearly learning the ropes quickly. With it come other challenges, especially in determining when they are concert-ready – not just for the one first concert, but for many more. One hears of performers breaking into the scene with an armoury of only 100 kritis. 500 were considered a minimum threshold to receive the debutant cap in the past. There is also a challenge to prepare them for a perpetual learning cycle, even before they get into the performance circuit. Undertrained or poorly crafted talent is as much a blot on the guru as on the disciple.
Among the new challenges is the “rapid popularity syndrome”. Concert schedules now come with the guru’s name tagged with the performer, for new performers. With the social media and the general media drooling over the newcomers, some of them seem to achieve celebrity status before their music achieves sustainable excellence. Sabhas may also be getting influenced by the media.
Early stardom can be detrimental to the musical growth of the youngsters as their myopic urges and temerity may impede learning. Do they realise that they continue to need the wisdom of their gurus and well-meaning critics to become long term winners? The previous generations of musicians, barring a few, had the humility and reverence to be open to such influences. Do the new generation of students have this attitude ingrained in them?