With funding for music education at risk around the world, one Punjabi village is setting an inspirational example: for the past 100 years, every child raised in the village of Bhaini Sahib has been taught the fundamentals of Indian classical music. Children in Bhaini Sahib learn to play ragas in the Sikh spiritual tradition, and have helped to spread Indian classical music around the world.
Namdhari spiritual leader Satguru Pratap Singh started the tradition, which was picked up by his son Satguru Jagjit Singh after the father died in 1959. Village leaders helped keep the flame of music education burning through the 1970s, reports the Times of India, when the rapidly developing nation was turning its attention away from the arts and towards technical vocations.
As music educators in other countries have seen, the training has paid extra-musical dividends as well. Local kids have excelled at a wide range of fields. "We believe that if you learn music as a child," says one village music teacher, "you become a better human being."