66-year-old violinist in Chennai wants to revive traditional music

Chennai: Rising interest and affinity towards western culture has resulted in reduced number of children and people taking up traditional art forms.

For Mathivathani, a 66-year-old violinist and vocal artiste who resides at Karthikeyapuram, interest towards learning and listening to Carnatic music is decreasing as the current generation prefers other art forms from foreign lands.

So she started taking music classes, both online and offline, to help revive the art before it is lost. News Today caught up with her recently in a bid to learn more about her.

Speaking about the method she uses, the Kalakshethra artiste said, “It is not easy to get young minds to show interest in Carnatics music. So, what I do is analyse my students, their interests and start teaching them the basics in the way they love, rather than introducing them to big lessons. Once I realise their potential and interest, I will start teaching serious lessons to them.”

The musician stated that she asks her students to practice the lessons they learnt at least twice a day, so that within a few days’ time, her students can start singing or playing their instrument without seeing notes. “That’s how I make the art interesting.”

Mathivathani started taking violin and vocal music classes 20 years ago for a handful of students. Today, her student count has reached 50 in the neighbourhood and a further 25 tune in for lessons from US and European countries over Skype.

She said she started learning Violin when she was 14-years-old. She learnt her trade from Kalakshethra Academy, Nanganallur Thyagaraja Aradhana Sabha and S K Natyalaya. Her gurus include Thiruvaarur Balasubramaniyam, Pakala Harmonium Ramadass, and Sambamoorthi.
She said she staged over 30 kutcheris with her students in and around neighbourhood. “I feel privileged as many of students are now playing the musical instrument for leading artistes now,” said Mathivathani.

Asked how she handles Skype music classes and offline music classes together, she said, “I take offline classes at home during the day and Skype classes early in the morning. So there are no issues in handling both. When it comes to Skype classes, I teach for students who have already learned the basics. Hence there are no hurdles in teaching them.”

When asked about Carnatic music losing to Western culture, she says, “Each and every music form has its own credit. Both have pros. Carnatic music is something special and benefits the learner to overcome stress, depression and makes them psychologically fit and healthy.”

The sexagenarian also suggested that parents should make their child learn at least one artform. “Children have no other way to spend their valuable time. Learning music will bring in concentration and the ability to overcome depression and enhance confidence,” she declared.

Mathivathani can be reached at 9941280238.

Balamurugan Selvaraj