Give it up for Megna Arichandran!

My Carnatic music classes always include simple activities that make the student think, crosswords, puzzles, etc. This week, my young and talented student Megna Arichandran from Norwich solved this crossword herself, that I made for her based on the song Shakti Sahita Ganapatim!

Here are the clues to the crossword:

  1. King of the devas
  2. Composer’s mudra
  3. Another name for Lord Shiva
  4. Strength
  5. Name of tala that the song is set in
  6. Number of beats in this tala

Here’s the crossword:

Shakti sahita ganapatim crossword

And here’s Megna’s completed crossword:

Megna crossword

Well done, Megna! Keep it up!


Ode to the guru

Shashikiran sir is always so full of ideas that every time I speak to him I am inspired! This morning, he was talking about manodharma sangeetham and other things, when I realised for the 129,873,497th time how blessed I am to be his disciple. So I wrote him this poem:

apAra nyAnanum
aLavilA ATralum
tittikkum tEnkuralum
tIrAda isait-tAgamum
paranda manadum
siranda sindaiyum
shrutiyil shuddhamum
nAvil vINApANiyum
koNDa gurunAtha
paNNAl pOTri – un
pugazhp pADinEn 
padam paNindEn

Articles for Deccan Chronicle

This Season, Shashi sir and I wrote a couple of opinion pieces for Deccan Chronicle:

1. Concert Quality: Then and Now (Scroll down to the second article on the page.)
2. Musings on Music Season 2013

Other bigger and exciting projects are happening simultaneously, and I’m juggling them all with home and work! Sometimes it feels like I’m living the lives of two different people–between 9 and 5, I work on management books, reading, editing, mailing, meeting and talking to authors. The rest of the day, I’m constantly thinking about music, coming up with ideas for promoting music, listening to music, learning, practising and notating. I only wish though that I could pack more into each day…there’s miles to go before I sleep!

Global Carnatic Gurukulam

My music school Guru Kripa has been rechristened Global Carnatic Gurukulam by my guru Shri K.N. Shashikiran. Shashi sir wanted a name that would reflect our vision, and I wanted it to have ‘Guru’ in the name–so we arrived at Global Carnatic Gurukulam!

At Global Carnatic Gurukulam, I will be using a unique activity-based method of teaching that will ensure that students learn to enjoy and have fun with Carnatic music. These are some of the many things that will be part of my classes:

  • A voice ‘gym’ focusing on voice culture exercises designed by Shashi sir
  • Carnatic music theory and grammar
  • Creativity as a means to understanding Carnatic music
  • Understanding and writing notation
  • Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil training along with the meanings of songs
  • Bhakti sangeetham
  • Learning by listening
  • Regular performances by the students

What’s more, Shashikiran sir will be guiding the school closely, and will personally conduct workshops and classes for the students during his UK concert tours.

Guru Kripa

It has been more than a year since I wrote here last. I’ve always had a lot going on, and this past year has been no exception. Ajay and I moved to London in February 2013. Living in a developed country has been an amazing experience, made more amazing by Ajay who has always been my best friend and unflinching partner in all of life’s ups and downs.

I’ve become ‘domesticated’ in many ways–something I abhorred at one time. Between college/work and my music projects, TV, writing, etc. I had no time to do mundane activities like helping mom in the kitchen or doing any household chores at all. But over the past year, I’ve learnt to cook, do household chores and manage everything else that ensues from working a 9 to 5 job and running a home. I have enjoyed the experience immensely, and I’m happy I agreed to move–London has opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities.

In Chennai and in London, Carnatic music has been an integral part of my life. On a few occasions, I have even mulled over the possibility of quitting my job and focusing on music full time, but my desire to multi-task and excel at multiple things (pompous as it may sound, it has been my primary motivator in all my activities!) always comes in the way!

Be that as it may, one of the many things about Carnatic music that has fascinated me is its teaching methods–ever since I started learning from Shashi sir when I was in 10th standard. Before Shashi sir, I learnt from a mama who came home every weekend–but I hated Carnatic music then. It was Shashi sir who taught me to love Carnatic music and since then I have written a lot about his teaching methods. (See this post.)

Over the past year or two, I have done considerable work on making Carnatic music interesting for kids (and adults). I know that Carnatic music can be a lot of fun, and believe strongly that the teaching method employed should be innovative and must foster creativity in the student, from the very first day of classes. I have evolved a method of teaching that relies on activities that encourage the student to think and be creative, while simultaneously having fun.

Teaching Carnatic music has come almost as a natural consequence to living in London. So this January, I will be starting Guru Kripa, a school for learning Carnatic music the fun way, in Ilford, East London. If you want to get in touch with me, please write to me and I will be happy to help you in any way I can.

Guru Kripa is my humble offering to my guru and God, vidwan Shri K.N. Shashikiran, to whom I owe my love for music and the little gnaanam I may have gained over the past 12 years. I’m deeply thankful to him for offering me a part in his numerous projects–it has been a truly rewarding, enriching and unforgettable experience. To you, my guru, I humbly offer Guru Kripa.


I was featured some time ago in the Sruti magazine’s blog. Thanks to Sri Ramnarayan, Editor-in-chief of Sruti! (Link to original article) 

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Nivedita Narayanan
What kind of job does a gold medallist engineering graduate with an MBA, who is also a Carnatic vocalist, co-author and editor of books, popular hostess of TV shows and public events, wildlife enthusiast and writer of articles on wildlife, music and musicians, opt for when she completes college? That of a project editor in Oxford University Press, of course. Stands to reason, doesn’t it?
That was Nivedita Narayanan’s choice of day job when she graduated from business school a couple of years ago, though we at Sruti tried to tempt her to join us as a correspondent. As we were aware of her background as a musician, TV anchor and freelance journalist with a reputation for meeting deadlines without fail, we were quite surprised with her decision to become an editor, though her all round qualifications should have really prepared us.
Nivedita started learning Carnatic music at the age of 14 from prominent Carnatic vocalist KN Shashikiran, to whose mentoring she attributes both her musical proficiency and theoretical knowledge. She says, “When I went to Shashi sir, I had already learnt for seven years, but I could barely identify swarasthanas and disliked Carnatic music to the extent of hating it.” She has also been the popular hostess of such TV shows as Puduppunal and Nam Virundinar on Podhigai TV, Maithreem Bhajatha on Sankara TV and Doordarshan’s National Programme of Music.
Nivedita who has had a brilliant academic record—has received awards for outstanding performance in school board examinations, a gold medal in her BE (Electrical and Electronics Engineering) from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering and best outgoing student awards for all semesters in both her engineering course and MBA (Finance) from the ICFAI Business School.
Nivedita has been contributing interviews and articles for Sruti magazine for the past few years. Her writing is thoughtful and well structured.

A Concert and a Kolu Conversation

My mother-in-law and I were invited to a neighbourhood mama-mami’s house for vethala paaku, a few days ago. We went at around 8.30 pm, after I came home from a concert on Saraswathi pooja day. This mama and mami seemed somehow intent to prove that I couldn’t sing! Once the initial niceties were done, mami got to the inevitable question that every TamBrahm girl is asked:

Mami: So do you sing?

Me: Yes, mami.

MIL: We just got home from her concert.

Mami: Oh, you sang a couple of songs?

MIL: No, no. It was a full-fledged concert.

Mami: OK, so you sang with someone else in a group?

Me: No, mami, it was just me.

Mami: You mean you sang something like a real concert?

Me: Yeah, mami. It was a real concert.

Mami (sighing and giving up, realising that she’d run out of questions): Oh! Anyway, nalla pozhudupokku! [Good time-pass!]

Mama, who’d been a mute spectator until then, decided that he would not give up, even if mami did:

Mama: So does your husband sing?

Me: Sure, mama, he does–and quite well at that.

Mama (with a victorious glint in his eyes and a tone of finality): Ha! Ha ha! No, no. I don’t mean that, of course. I mean singing with nyaanam!