The Shankar Mahadevan Academy (SMA), was created by master musician Shankar Mahadevan, with a vision to make the learning of Indian Classical styles of music accessible, easy and fun, using an online platform. The academy provides students an easy way to learn music from the convenience of their own homes through the use of video conferencing for live online classes. Students get to learn at their own pace, with the help of a few unique and innovative tools and techniques. Some of these are:
1. Voice Gym
This is a technique that helps students build a strong singing voice. Voice gym works on teaching the basic functioning and mechanics of voice production such that students are able to use their voice to its optimal capacity. Various techniques are taught to sing from the abdomen versus singing from the throat, which is detrimental in the long run. Voice gym sessions consist of warm up exercises, breathing exercises, and lessons combining breathing and singing. If students have any voice or speech issues, these are addressed during the course as well using personalized exercises.
2. Raga Deep Dive
Raga Deep Dive is a course offered by the SMA, which allows a student to immerse himself/herself in a single Raga and explore that Raga in depth. Singing a Raga is much more than just making permutations and combinations with Swaras. It involves a keen sense of understanding the unique persona that every Raga has. Raga Deep Dive courses allow students to explore the Badaa Khayal, Chhotal Khayal and other compositions of a Raga along with improvisation techniques like Taan, Aalaap and Bol Alaap
3. OM or the Online Music Books
OM Books, or Online Music Books, are central to learning at the Academy. They are filled with invaluable information, instructional videos, music notations, recording tools, and other features to help students master their singing skills. OM Books are self-paced learning tools, which include instructional videos from renowned artists, music history, notations, quizzes, recorders for practice, and more.
Learning from the OM Book according to SMA experts has a number of advantages over pure face-to-face learning:
It allows students to learn before each virtual class on their own time, at their own pace
It provides rare access to exceptional quality instruction from renowned artists
It enables students to go back and practice what they have learned at any time
It provides tools such as recorders that aren’t available in traditional class settings
It encourages and guides regular practice, which is the key to successful learning.
4. Electronic Shruti Box and Riyaaz Recorder
A traditional Shruti box provides a rich background accompaniment that supports classical singing. These shruti boxes are hand-pumped to produce a slightly pulsating constant chord to support the right rhythm for the right style of music. The SMA uses an online version of the Shruthi Box for its courses. This online tool is extremely useful tool for the singers to tune their voice.
SMA students also use a Riyaaz recorder for practice or ‘Riyaaz’. This is an integrated practice tool for recording, playing back, and for listening to recordings. These recordings can also be submitted for expert feedback.
Such online tools, SMA experts believe, make learning streamlined and enjoyable.
5. The “Sangam”
‘SANGAM’ is an an exclusive Global meet for the Academy students that brings together students and teachers from very diverse backgrounds and diverse genres of music.
‘SANGAM’ provides a stimulating platform for the Academy teachers, mentors and the students in Carnatic, Hindustani and other genres of music from over 20 countries around the world. This event also features a “Sing with Shankar” global talent hunt contest, wherein winners get an exciting opportunity to sing with Shankar Mahadevan himself on the day of the event.
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