“Music Education in Indian Universities” by Prof. Indrani Chakravarti


Every society has its own way of living, a definite mode of thinking nothing and feeling. Thought thousands of year of experience, man has been able to develop a heritage of intelligible pattern of behaviour. Thus, culture emanates from society in interaction. Culture is the product of organised human life and portray the heritage of the society on the one hand and its normative pattern on the other. The fundamental basis of culture is ideas and ideologies, which are retained in Indian society since time immemorial. The identical culture and tradition were also followed in ancient countries like Greece, Rome and Chinn.

The oral transmission of knowledge from the master to his pupil has been recognised as an effective measure in the society. The pupil inherits the distinctive qualities, methods and styles of his master; hence, the society too, has recognised their relationship as well as the authority of the Guru as supreme in Guru-Shishya parampara. Guru Shishya parampara has been played a vital role in Indian society and is still being practised in music and fine arts apart from vedic teachings.

During later nineteenth century, a new concept of modernisation influenced Indian thinkers, scientists, philosophers and music connoisseurs. Hence the music lovers started using their best brains to modernize the system of teaching of music, for the cause of popularizing classical music amongst the mass. The institutions were set up on the line of Gurukul tradition, but gradually the society accepted the institutionalized pattern, because these schools were opened for the common man, irrespective of their caste or creed.

Music teaching in present context

  1. In 1871, Mr. Khestramohan Goswami, opened the first ever music school in Calcutta with the patronage of Raja Jatindra Mohan Thakur and Shourindra Mohan Thakur. Thereafter, Raja Shourindra Mohan Thakur established BangaAcademie of Music (Inter known as Bengal School of Music) in 1881.
  2. During the same period Pt. Balkrishnan Bua Ichalkaranjikar, Pt. Aditya Ram, Pt. Pannalal Gosain and the Parsee community established music schools in Bombay, Jamnagar State, Delhi and Bombay respectively.
  3. In 1886, Maharaja of Baroda founded Baroda College of Music under the guidance of Ud. Moula Bux Ghisse Khan and Pt. Aditya Ram at Baroda. This college has been elevated as the Faculty of performing Arts in M. S. University, Baroda.
  4. In May 1901, Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar founded music school and named it Gandharva Sangit Mahamandal at Lahore and a few years later its branhces were opened at Bombay and Miraj, in the line of Gurukul tradition. Today this institution has quite a good number of centres in all jver the country.
  5. Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, a lawyers left his practice for the promotion and popularization of music amongst the mass and established Madhav Sangit Mahavidhyalaya at Gwalior, followed by another college at Baroda in 1920. In 1926, he founded the famous Marris College of Music at Lucknow, which is presently known as Bhatkhande Sangit Mahavidyalaya.

After independence, teaching of music as a optional subjects in primary and higher secondary schools, colleges and thereafter in the universities was started by Govt. Of India A few decision making bodies like Education Department of the Department of Human Resources Development and University Grants Commission of Govt. of India accepted of the universities. A number of department and faculties have been introduced till date.

In 1956, Indira Kala Sangit Vishwavidyalaya in Khairagarh (MP) was established under the Universities Act, which is serving the society till date.

Teaching methods in the Universities

The three components of the university teaching are :

(i) Syllabus (ii) text books and (iii examinations. In modern system, the courses of studies are pre-planned, the timings of teaching are, too, quite consistent; for the purpose of cross reference and self study written texts are made available; the exams are held either periodically or annually and proper record of pupils progress is maintained. Contrary to this, in Gurukul tradition, the courses of studies, the timings of instruction and the examination are totally dependent on the convenience and wish of the Gurus.

The merits of School education

  1. It contributes to the emotional health of the students,
  2. It can enhance pupil’s capacity to perform better,
  3. It can inclulcate the interest in collective work.
  4. The collective teaching of music helps in developing mental, physical and spiritual levels of students in very spontaneous manner.

Demerits of school education

  1. Most of the students learn music either as hobby or for requiring percentage and degrees.
  2. Since music needs personal attention, hence in collective teaching standard deteriorates.
  3. Poor social response towards music and musicians.
  4. Incompetency of teachers and examiners in performing their duties.
  5. Non inclusion of music as one of the main subject in school curricula.
  6. Indifferent attitude of the head of the institutions toward equipping the music departments with instruments and modern gadgets.
  7. Lock of interest of the parents to provide instruments and text books on music.
  8. Indifference of teaching staffs towards the subjects as it is rated inferior to other subjects like science and Commerce.
  9. No training according to the mental level of the students. No tests are conducted to improve the grasping power of the candidates.
  10. As the schools main aim is to award degrees to most of students, therefore, degree-oriented course are prepared in the institutions. Hence, courses do not fulfil the need to improve knowledge of the students.

Aim of University level teaching of Music

Easy accessibility of the general public to the colleges and universities has resulted into marked decay in the standard of teaching of skilled arts, especially music. The government and some private organizations have now shown concern over this problem and are imparting suggestions for improving the quality of teaching. Teaching of practical aspects of music through Guru-Shishya Parampara has once again made its importance felt on the forefront of all deliberations on the subject.

Before we start to discuss about the decision making policies, some questions arise in our mind. They are:

  1. Whether the practical and theory should be taught side by side in identical pattern?
  2. Whether refresher course should not be considered a must for all the teachers of performing & Visual Arts ?
  3. Whether sometime a refreshers courses really improve upon the teacher’s teaching ability or it has become a toll to get the higher increments ?
  4. Whether a National Policy making Body Should not be set up with its branches at State level, to study and suggest the ways and means of improving the standard of music teaching ?

We may discuss now on some suggestive measures may be adopted in the Institutional educational system.


  1. Teaching curricula
    1. Primary and middle schools can impart effective know-how on the basics of music teaching like practice of voice and hand culture (3TO cT«n SWfllSH) traditional compositions and various other techniques of note patterns.
    2. A balance be made between school and college curricula.
    3. The college curricula should be knowledge oriented where practical and theory aspects should be dealt with maximum extent so that it may be possible for the students to make up their mind for choosing any of the above disciplines as a major subjects before entering to University education.
    4. In university education, there should be two fold systems of teaching Research oriented and Practical oriented. Research oriented teaching should be taken up in university departments and practical oriented instruction should be started in conservators or Gurukul system. About seven decades ago, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur visualized this situation and initiated certain steps to deal with it effectively He founded Kala Sangit Bharati in Banaras Hindu University which has been renamed as faculty of Music & Performing Arts but regrettingly his vision was not maintained by his successors. It is high time to reconsider the system envisaged by Panditji for a revival. The government as well as some private organizations should come forward henceforth.
  2. Admission
    1. Universities must set up an advisory board to conduct aptitude and eligibility tests of the candidates to decide their aptitude in particular discipline of music. The tests should be very strictly conducted and the decision of the Board comprising a scholar of the subject concerned, a performing Guru of repute and an official of the University, would be final. Only talented students be accepted for rigorous training who could be able to serve the society in a better way.
  3. Examination
    1. Examinations in the subjects like music, performing and visual arts should be conducted with strict vigilance and care, as done in Gurukul tradition.
    2. No second or third division should be awarded in these subjects. Only those students be declared qualified who score first division or distinction marks. There should not be any in-between division in these subjects.
    3. The unsuccessful students be given enough time and training to improve their standard.
  4. Teachers
    1. University should appoint separate Professors and Teachers in musicology and practical teachings taking into consideration their merit, wisdom and eminence in their respective field.
    2. The Students so admitted should be examined by the teachers every month to ensure their continued grasp over the subject. They should be grouped appropriately prior to commencement of their training session.
    3. A full time syllabus should be prepared contrary to 45-60 minutes classroom teaching.
    4. The assessment of the talent and the works of the teachers should be taken into consideration for quality teaching and not just getting filled a self-appraisal proforma from them. A few prime universities have taken up different courses of studies in their respective music departments. These are Faculty of Performing Arts, B. H. U., Varanasi; faculty of Music & Fine Arts, Delhi University, Delhi; Faculty of performing Arts, M. S. University, Baroda ; Dept. of Indian Music, Madras University, Chennai ; Dept. of Music, Vishwabharti, Shantiniketan; Faculty of performing and Visual Arts, H. P. University Shimla to name a few. Two Universities of Music and Performing and Visual Arts established under Universities Act. They are Indira Kala Sangit University Khairagarh (M.P.) and Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta. The Former is working well as Music University with other components whereas later is almost succumbed to the hands of literature subject experts.

Analysis and Conclusion

College and University teachers play a vital role in the all around development of students personality. The job is very challenging wherein the teachers exercise their personal influence upon the students. Therefore professional competence is mandatory for the teachers.

Unfortunately most of the teachers, especially music teachers, have little knowledge of pedagogy, educational psychology etc. because they learn teaching techniques through trial and error methods or on the direction and dictation of their own teachers.

Quality is the key of success. But lack of competence, confidence, command and control over the subject puts a university teacher in a valuable position. Knowing the subject and communicating it effectively are two interdependent but altogether different skills. Music teachers takes up teaching profession without any formal skills training, therefore, pre-service training is very essential. We must understand that when B. Ed. and M. Ed are compulsory for school teaching, and when training programmes are made essential for all other professional jobs, like Lawyer, Military Personnel, medical Doctors, Aircraft Pilots, Legislators etc., then why not some training to be made compulsory for music education in the Colleges and Universities ? Yes, they should learn the techniques of teaching amidst their prefixed teaching schedules.

Some Universities have come up with training programmes for newly appointed Lecturers of Post-graduate departments and affiliated/ constituent colleges. In the induction-training, the participant teachers will have chances of listening to the topics on objectives of Higher Education, Psychology of Personality, Philosophy of Education, curriculum planning, concept of evaluation, preparation of question papers, organising of tutorials etc. Hence a sensible, planned and well-organised induction-training programme in music and other performing art subjects could help the newly appointed teachers with clarity of vision, broader perspective and inculcation of faith in their teaching methods. Thus, they could serve the society to their best and can produce good performance as well as good teachers.

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