Music – A Way of Life and A Delight for Children

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Everyday we play many roles and our roles differ from situation to situation. Broadly we can divide our roles in two categories- personal and professional. On professional front we mostly play a specific role. But, what’s interesting is, in the personal category we unknowingly play multiple roles. At this point, just let your thoughts take a diversion towards a quick question- God forbid, but would I have been able to carry out all my activities with ease if I was deprived of my sight, or for that matter any other physical element? Indeed, it’s a thought evoking question. But the purpose behind this question was primarily to introduce A.D Shantha Kumari- an amazing person and inspiration for all.

It’s lunch time at the Government Higher Primary School Mahalakshmipuram, Bangalore. A few children surround Shantha Kumari and inform her that “Pulao” is on the menu for the mid-day meal.  Shilpa S, a grade 7 student, helps the music teacher wash hands and brings a tiffin box filled with Pulao. Shilpa says, “She is our favourite teacher. We all love the patriotic song she teaches us.” To this, Shantha says, “Children enjoy the patriotic song because these kinds of songs infuse great energy among them.”

Akshaya-Patra-mid-day-meal-scheme-Shantha-Kumari-music-teacher-Shantha Kumari is a favourite teacher; a good cook; a music lover; and a caring mother and wife. She is able to quickly adapt to these roles one after another with ease. While many of these roles are often shouldered by other working women too, what makes Shantha stand out is the fact that she takes on these roles in spite of being visually impaired. The teacher, who has over three decades of experience, is known for her dedication and enthusiasm.


A quick flashback about how her life took the path of music:

Being visually impaired, as a child she attended the Deaf and Blind school in the city of Mysore,Karnataka.  Her parents who were captivated by her melodious voice encouraged her to study music.  After passing her seniors in classical music, she applied for a job and soon enough she was recruited as a teacher. At the age of eighteen, she began her career as a music teacher in a school in Kapu, a small town in the coastal district of Karnataka. She used to teach for 36 hours a week for children from grade 3 to grade 7. She says, “I enjoy teaching because for me music is a way of life. It connects me to people in a manner which cannot be expressed.” Shantha went on to teach at various schools in Bangalore and Mysore.

The mother of two says, “My children love my cooking. They say I make ‘upma’ and ‘roti’ really well. Shantha’s daughter has completed her engineering and is working for a multi-national company, while her son is studying in grade 12. Recounting how she spends the day, she says with a smile, “I even watch TV; I listen to the music shows, cookery shows and a few sit-coms.” It’s a story of inspiration indeed and alongside a story of determination too.

Currently, working in a school where Akshaya Patra serves mid-day meals to the students, she says,” Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme has had a positive impact on attendance. Earlier many children would faint in the class because they would come to school hungry, now though such instances have reduced, if children do faint, we give such children the mid-day meal even before its lunch time.”

Soon, the school bell rings, signifying the end of the lunch hour. The children have enjoyed eating the mid-day meal, and are back to their respective classes. The seventh graders excitedly assemble in the class awaiting their music teacher. After enjoying a brief chat with the students, Shantha instructs the class to repeat the line she sings. Within moments Shantha and the children are engrossed in a world where music is the only language that can be seen, heard and felt.

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