Traditionally, the teaching of folk music in Rajasthan has been an informal 'organic' affair. Children picked up musical skills by observing performances by their parents. Transmitting musical knowledge in this manner is, for a number of reasons, no longer as effective. As it has become more difficult to earn a livelihood through giving performances, the number of musicians who perform on a regular basis has diminished considerably. Consequently, the base on which a young artist developed his skills has eroded. Also, children of the music communities now attend formal schools and no longer live in a musically 'saturated' environment as the previous generation did.
This grant supports a senior folk musician and teacher, Nathu Khan Bagadwa, to address this situation. He will develop a systemised teaching-learning process for folk music with a particular focus on the Maand, a form that the Bikaner region is particularly known for. He will select 15 youngsters, in the age group of 10 to18 years, from the 20 families of folk musicians that live in Jamsar, near Bikaner. They will be trained by him and assistant teachers on a daily basis. To support this process, performances of selected senior musicians of the Maand will be recorded and workshops organised with senior artists, students, local artists and parents. In the last phase of the project, students' performances will be recorded in a recording studio.
Thirty senior musicians will be invited to record their songs. The aim is to collect up to 100 hours of recorded music as a resource for the teaching sessions. Since children today have fewer opportunities to listen to the music of the tradition to which they belong, the recordings will be invaluable, because listening to the music is as important as learning it. These recordings and the workshops that will be held every quarter will act as a bridge between the senior musicians and the learners.
The students will also be introduced to musical instruments and music techniques that are not part of the tradition. Given rapidly changing ground realities, Nathu Khan feels that students must develop the skills and versatility to perform in new and diverse contexts. Some sessions, therefore, have been earmarked to acquaint students with the use of the keyboard and guitar. Also, a keyboard will have to be used as a substitute for the sarangi for the daily sessions. Though the sarangi is crucial to a Maand performance, the few sarangi players in the region are in great demand and it is not easy to avail of their services. This project therefore needs to be seen as an effort to develop a pedagogy for folk music that will work in the current context.
To ensure that parents have a say in the entire process, regular meetings between the teachers and parents have been planned. Interaction with parents will ensure accountability of those who will train the students. A CD of students' performances will be created towards the end of the grant term, and will serve a dual purpose. First, it will be useful as a motivation tool for the students and will acquaint them with the recording studio environment. It will also serve as a testimony of Nathu Khan's success as a teacher and will be circulated among parents from the musician community, who, it is hoped, will become interested in having their children trained in music.
The project has the potential to grow into a long-term intervention in the teaching and learning of music amongst the folk musicians of the Bikaner region, initiated and managed by the community. Dr Suman Yadav, who heads the Department of Music at the University of Rajasthan in Jaipur and is also a performing artist, will monitor and evaluate the project. With his knowledge of the region's folk traditions as well as formal music pedagogies, he would be able to offer appropriate guidance and inputs to ensure the project's full potential is realised.
The project will be managed by Nathu Khan Bagadwa, who will be the chief teacher and Anwar Ali Kohri, who will be the project co-ordinater.
This description is part of the institutional records created by IFA at the onset of the grant. The project may have changed in due course as reflected in the deliverables from the Grantee.
Grant No : 2008-0-003
Grantee Name : Nathu Khan Bagadwa
Programme : Special Grants
Grant Status : Completed
Start Date : 30-06-2008
End Date : 30-12-2009
Duration : One year and six months
Grant Amount : 3,67,600
Geographical Area of Work : Rajasthan
Disciplinary Field of Work : Music
Language : Marwari