K.V. Narayanaswamy: He illumined our paths
HEMMIGE S. PRASHANTH
It is not often that one comes across a classical musician who excels equally as a performer and as a teacher. Indeed, it is something of a rarity to find an individual adept at both, since these two roles demand different kinds of expertise, focus and involvement. As a performer, the musician aims to share his experience or vision of music with the rasikas; as a teacher, he takes full responsibility for the sishya, and is even authorised to ‘sculpt’ the pupil in his own mould. Especially in the gurukula system of learning, the sishya surrenders himself to the guru’s care, and hence can learn not only music but valuable life-lessons as well. My guru, Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy (KVN Mama to us), was one such rare musician who was not only a superlative performer worth emulating but also a deeply committed teacher we all looked up to.
I was fortunate to observe KVN Mama teach a wide spectrum of students, right from the sarali varisai to the most advanced level. The manner in which Mama taught them all, always ensuring that his teaching was pitched at just the right level, was an amazing lesson in itself. Mama’s teaching was comprehensive and included all aspects that a student needed to learn, such as voice culture, singing technique and laya.
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