My aunt spent many years in China learning all about Chinese culture. Once she came home she introduced everyone our family to new things. One of them was regular visits to the concerts of the Calcutta trio – a group of Hungarians playing classical Indian music namely the sitar, tabla and tanpura. Each concert included a raga, videos about other musicians playing other Indian musical instruments and most concerts also inluded little lectures about their adventures in India as well as lengthy desriptions about the way they learnt music from their gurus , Pandit Ravi Shankar , Ustad Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussein . They told us about the deep respect and admiration the student feels towards his/her guru and all the responsabilites the guru has to give on his/her knowledge to his disciples.
Here is what the Wikipedia says about the guru-shishya tradition :”The guru-shishya tradition (also guru-shishya parampara or lineage) is a spiritual relationship found within traditional Hinduism which is centered around the transmission of teachings from a guru (teacher) to a shishya (disciple). The term shishya roughly equates to the western term disciple, and in some parts of India is synonymous with the term chela. In a Hindu context, the term guru signifies one who teaches or imparts knowledge. Such knowledge, whether it be Vedic, Agamic art, architecture, music or spirituality, is imparted through the developing relationship between guru and disciple. The principle of this relationship is that knowledge, especially subtle or advanced knowledge, is best conveyed through a strong human relationship based on ideals of the student’s respect, commitment, devotion and obedience, and on personal instruction by which the student eventually masters the knowledge that the guru embodies.” ( Click here to read on …. )
At first I wasn’t really listening to these stories – I was just waiting for the concert to finish so that we can go home with my grandmother and carry on playing.

However later on I started listening to them and tried to make sense of all those they had to say. I found these concepts more and more fascinating and started to compare my experiences in my schools ( primary school and also my music school where I was learning classical violin since the age of 7) to the the Indian way of learning music. There was an unbelievable difference between the two teaching methods.

What I have realised the most teachers today have nothing to do with teaching – seriously – just think – how many of your teachers have ever taught you something – what percentage of the things you learnt at school are you using in your everyday life after leaving high school / or university.

I think there are major problems with how one looks at teaching and learning. These are lifelong activities – and one does both similtaneously .

Today when I listen to the ragas – I also remember all those stories at the Calcutta trio concerts – and I definitely try to use those teachings in the way I teach and learn every single day.