Onmutu- General Music Learning Article

Striking the Right Notes

It is said, playing a musical instrument is more powerful than listening to music. With this in mind, L S Ramesh, a 46-year-old post-graduate from IIT Madras, has created a Sri Saraswati music chakra, which helps in healing specially-enabled people by letting them play music. Ramesh says “hearing-impaired children are adept at learning through seeing; though they cannot hear, they can see the dots on the chakra and play the melody of a raga on the synthesiser.”

Children with autism and Down syndrome are very receptive to music. If they are taught to play the scales according to the chakra, their motor neurons become more active. Parents of such children can easily understand the layout of the chakra and teach them. Autistic children are very artistic; they are fascinated by paintings, and hence easily recognise the patterns of the dots and take to music by using the chakra.

The Sri Saraswati Music Chakra is a 13.5-inch circular foam board and has all the 72 Melakarta ragas depicted in the form of dots resmbling keys of a keyboard (for one octave), indicating the swara stanas or placement of notes (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni, Sa). The chart also represents the white and black keys of the keyboard and indicates the notes for a particular raga using dots, seeing which even the uninitiated can play a synthesiser.

In Warangal in Telangana, an orphanage has allotted a music therapy room where Ramesh has displayed the chakra as a huge wall poster and has gifted four keyboards and chakras. Children with autism and Down syndrome are taught to play ragas on the keyboard. Over time, they will be able to mingle socially and interact with public.

“Raga chikitsa or music theraphy was practiced by our saints. The 72 Melakarta ragas control 72 nerve points in the body, as per our ancient texts such as Swara Shastra. The Raga Chikitsa Library in Tanjavur has well-documented research work on effects of ragas on the body and mind,” explains Ramesh.

The sound vibrations from a raga create an aura of energy and help restore a person’s health. Some Indian neurologists in the US are using the chakra to help treat patients by playing ragas.

Continuing the work with children, Ramesh and his wife Sridevi’s FACES (Food, Aid, Clothing, Education, Shelter) initiative acts as a bridge between students and orphanages. FACES facilitates communities, schools and colleges to contribute their monthly old newspapers, which are sold to raise funds to buy rice, medicines, clothes, books, etc., for orphans.

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