When Aswathy had to give up her musical dreams to pursue her higher education in engineering, she was not dejected at all. She did not forget to specify in her resume that she was looking for a job where she could combine music with engineering. However, much to her own surprise, a company called ‘Indian Raga’ which is based in the US, called her up and enquired whether she could teach music online. Aswathy shares her experiences as an online music tutor which is not a common career here.
“In the beginning they asked me to reach America to conduct a demo class. Later they told to send a musical piece composed by me. I did a piece which was a fusion of classical and Western music. I guess they liked it and said I could become an online music tutor from home,” Aswathy, a resident of Idukki district of Kerala, reveals how she became an online music teacher.
The admin of ‘IndianRaga’ is Veena Panderi, an IT professional in the US. Originally from Andhra Pradesh, Veena had reached America for pursuing her higher studies. She began the ‘IndianRaga’, a novel initiative in the musical industry when she got bored with the hectic work schedules that IT demanded. Aswathy’s disciples are mostly Tamil- and Telugu-speaking kids residing in the US. She confesses that it was a little difficult for her initially to understand the highly accented English that the US-based students spoke. In order to learn more about their mother tongues, Aswathy began to listen to Tamil and Telugu songs as well.
Aswathy is required to take five 45-minute sessions for each student in a month. She conducts classes from 4 am to 10 am and after 7 pm, to suit the American time and the convenience of her students. For the first half an hour, she trains her students in the basics of music and to make the classes lively she would then teach them their favourite cinematic music for the remaining 15 minutes. Aswathy and another trainer from Vishakhapatnam are the only Indian staff at the company which is based in America.
Aswathy says that she would first demonstrate the raga by clapping her hands rhythmically and then ask the student to sing accordingly. If the internet connection is slow then the student would hear the rhythm only when they are half way through the song. She says that a fast and efficient broadband internet connection is the most important requirement to conduct online music classes.
“The company would ask us to run trials for those who show interest to learn music. I began to have doubts whether they practise the lessons at home as most of them would repeat the same mistakes that I may have rectified during the training sessions. I was worried whether their lack of progress may put a negative remark on my career as well. That is when I decided to start a WhatsApp group. I was able to give individual attention to each student using voice clips. Gradually, students began to get better and even those who couldn’t hum a line was able to do well,” Aswathy shares her experience.
The youngster says that sometimes her students ask her to teach songs to take part in singing competitions. She says, “Most of them are not able to understand their range. They would ask to teach them songs in pitches that wouldn’t suit them. I would try my best to teach them what they want. But if the song doesn’t work for them, then I will openly say that. Once a student told me she needs to learn the song ‘Naina’ from the movie 'Dangal'. However she was not able to correctly pick up the rhythm or pitch. Finally, I had to tell her that the song didn’t suit her at all.” Aswathy then taught that student who could sing simple songs beautifully without losing its emotion, the evergreen Hindi song ‘Papa Kehte Hai’.
“It is important to choose the right song that suits you well, only then can you render it excellently. I usually follow the ways of my own music teachers,” says Aswathy.
Aswathy shares another instance when she felt immense happiness and proud about one of her students Akash who sang the song ‘Sahore’ from the movie 'Baahubali 2' at a Diwali celebration in America. “It took me almost two weeks to teach him the song. I felt proud when I saw the video of that programme on WhatsApp. The audience was clapping for him and appreciating him a lot. It indeed was one of my favourite moments,” Aswathy reveals.
Aswathy is a trained musician and it was her mother Mohanakumari, also a classical singer, who was her first teacher. Her father Vijayan and brother Ajith too are singers. Besides, online music tutoring, Aswathy composes songs for musical albums and is part of a band called ‘Dakkem Tabalem’.
Keep in mind
1. An excellent broadband internet connect is the most important requirement for online tutoring. Even a slight ‘lag’ could affect the quality of your sessions.
2. Do not take online music classes lightly. There are highly trained personnel who regularly monitor the trainers and the sessions taken by them.
3. Learn the right pronunciations of the lyrics of the songs in different languages.
Online music tutor
Monthly income: up to Rs 35000