KALKERI,DHARWAD: As dawn breaks over a picturesque little hillock in sleepy little Kalkeri, about 16 km from Dharwad, the village wakes up daily to the strains of music from a nearby school.
The Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya, situated on the hillock and surrounded by three beautiful lakes and spread over 3.5 acres, has 248 children studying in various classes. The uniqe contribution of this music gurukul is just that...being musical.
Music is the life of this school so much so that even cottages in this residential school are named after Hindustani ragas — Asavari, Khamaj, Bhairavi, Thodi etc.
The only qualification to join this school is that a child has to be from a lower economic strata and rural background.
Started in 2002, the school runs on a different rhythm. A typical day includes not just academic classes but also riyaz (music practice). It focuses on Hindustani classical music, classical dance and drama.
The day here starts at 5am when children gather for yoga and exercises. Post breakfast, they have classes in singing, playing bansuri, tabala, harmonium or any other musical instrument in the large common hall. Later, the children disperse to the cottages to pursue their academic classes.
The children are provided free food and education. Currently, the school has classes up to SSLC and follows the Karnataka state syllabus.
Children who study PUC and further will have to pursue their education in other institutions, where fees and other expenses are taken care of by the school administration.
Veeranna Pattar, head of Music Department, says the idea is to support children from poor socio-economic background and help them earn their bread and butter. “Several students from our music school are running institutes or working in various cities across India.”
Santosh Pujar, HR of the school, says that in 2002 the school started with just 14 students and today the strength has increased to 248.
Founded by Mathieu Fortier, Agathe Meurisse Fortier, Blaise Fortier from Canada and musicians from Dharwad Ustad Hameed Khan and Pandit Ravi Kudligi, the school’s goal is to empower the poor and rural children by providing them fundamental rights like access to education, quality healthcare and clean food.
The Canadian founders had travelled across India extensively and spent a few years in Shantiniketan in West Bengal learning Hindustani music. When they landed in Dharwad and found it was home to Hindustani music, they decided to open a school here, says Pujar.
Vishalakshi Charnthimath who has been staying at the music school for the last 10 years, says, “The school has shaped the life of many poor children.”
Sarita Rapanavar, a student, says she has won many prizes in dance competitions. “The teachers here support our interest towards music and also build our confidence,” she adds.
Today there is a huge demand for admissions after witnessing the positive results of this experiment.
“The founding team plans to expand the faciltiies. We are looking for land nearby,” says Pattar.