Inspire India Project - From Minus One to Infinity

Written by Shalini Saxena on 22 February 2019

Inspire India Project (IIP) is targeted at underprivileged school students, children with special needs and senior citizens. Music has the power to transform the world around us and thus it should be a part of everyone’s life. Learning music is similar to learning a language, constant exposure to music imbibes an understanding towards it - this is known as ‘learning by ear’. This is why many musicians of repute often come from a musical family as they get ear trained during their initial years. Musicians coming from a family of musicians include popular names like: Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar, Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, Annapurna Devi, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Malladi Brothers, Nithyasree Mahadevan and many more. Even the famous Gharanas of Hindustani music advocate ‘learning by listening’ and emphasize the importance of the ‘Shishya’ listening to the ‘Guru’. Here’s how music education can influence lives - it’s importance at different stages and how the project connects music to all age group:

For the Little Ones (Infants, toddlers and preschoolers)

Several studies show music and music instruction offer plenty of benefits for kids.

Benefits: Early exposure to music helps in developing regions of the brain accountable for language and reasoning skills. Music education increases the temporal and spatial reasoning required for mathematics. Music instruction also boosts self-esteem and enhances creativity. Exposing infants and toddlers to various genres of music, including classical, stimulates their musical mind. Even preschoolers can start to distinguish between tones and pitches.

Our Approach: With courses like Music During Pregnancy, Lost Lullabies and Rhymes to Swaras IIP aims to introduce music in the early stages of childhood.

For the Young Ones (School students)

With the introduction of ‘Right to Education’ a decade ago, we as a nation have been emphasizing the importance of making quality education accessible to children from all sections of our society. But nurturing the young ones to make them better future citizens includes much more than mastery of the basic subjects.

Benefits: Though the ability to read, write, calculate and communicate is essential for obtaining this goal, extra-curricular activities like music education can play a vital role in improving a child's cognitive development, analytical skills, and creative thinking. Music education can also help students concentrate better in other academic subjects like mathematics, science and languages. Music needs to be promoted as an essential component of learning elementary and secondary levels.

Challenges: When we started to approach schools, we came across the fact that there are several institutions which do not have music as a part of their curriculum, many don’t have music instructors at all. Even if there is an instructor the student-teacher ratio is poor and the importance given to music education is little. Educating the community about the value of music education is probably the first step towards changing this state.

Our Approach: With SMA’s Grow with Music curriculum, the project tends to develop an appreciation for music in children.

For Senior Citizens

Inspiration: After a lifetime of working, raising families, and contributing to the success of our nation in countless other ways, our ‘Senior Citizens’ deserve to live with dignity.

Challenges: While some of our seniors were excited about the classes, some were hesitant or shy to start learning music at their age.

Our Approach: We ensure that our first few sessions involve conversations to help them feel confident about learning music. The senior citizens can learn Hindustani Classical, Carnatic Classical, Devotional music and more.

For the Special Ones

Benefits: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) respond positively to music.

Our Approach: Through Joyful Choir the team works with children with ASD and their parents to help the children express themselves musically. Parents and teachers work together to draw up a curriculum specific to the interests of their child.

Music can enrich anyone’s life from an unborn child in the mother’s womb to a retired senior citizen. We call this model ‘Minus to Infinity’ as there’s something for everyone. Learning music helps them in becoming balanced and productive citizens which in turn gives them an avenue to contribute to society.