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The ‘fiddling monk’ strikes a chord of learning on the internet

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on January 20, 2021

Violin maestro Kumaresh

Violin maestro Kumaresh’s digital platform helps beginners learn the ropes

For many, the pandemic-led lockdown came as a boon to reignite their passion. For some, it was an opportunity to help others discover and pursue their passion. In the case of violin maestro Kumaresh, it’s the latter.

“In the initial days of the lockdown, I had so much time to spend for myself, play music, create and compose. I was having a wonderful time doing all that,” said Kumaresh.

“That’s when I thought everybody should find this joy.”

Earlier this month, Kumaresh — of the noted violinist duo Ganesh-Kumaresh — launched Bowing with Fiddling Monk, a platform offering an interactive digital learning experience of the Indian violin. “We all have the capacity to understand and appreciate music. But music is not freely available for everybody and finding a good teacher is always a big challenge,” said Kumaresh, who is fondly known as the ‘fiddling monk’.

Stretching the strings

A child prodigy, Kumaresh took to the concert stage when he was just five years old. An early Carnatic music sensation, he had completed his 100th stage performance before he was 10. Today, after nearly five decades of a successful musical career, Kumaresh wants to empower others.

“Everybody should know and understand the sound of grammatical Indian music, irrespective of where they come from or what their background is. That’s my idea,” said the Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee.

The e-learning portal fiddlingmonk.com facilitates easy ways — even for those without prior music knowledge — to learn melodies composed and curated specifically for the Indian violin. The course encompasses video lessons featuring multiple camera angles that capture fingering techniques and bowing postures in great detail. Students of any age can enrol for these classes.

“The digital platform will help students from across the globe to learn from a convenient space, at their own pace,” said Kumaresh. “There are more than 100-120 lessons already and there is going to be something on thaalam, how to compose, create, as well as master-classes, and one-on-one mentorship with me to address any technical problems of the students.”

Three-level learning

The course comes in three levels — beginner, intermediary and advanced. The beginner level includes simple exercises, while the intermediary level teaches seamless movement of the left hand across multiple octaves on the violin, among others. On completing these two levels, students become eligible to apply for the advanced course.

After every course completion, a certificate is automatically generated, signed by Kumaresh.

The e-learning portal, which started its pilot in August 2020, already has over 20 students, aged 5 to 65, from across the globe. The violin maestro is also planning to rope in schools to take the traditional Indian music instrument to a wider audience and to inculcate music learning in children in their formative years.

“Two schools — one each from Hyderabad and Bengaluru — have already agreed to subscribe to our portal. The idea is to kindle their interest at a very young age,” said Kumaresh.

Published on January 21, 2021

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