Meet Our Gurus

Meet Our Gurus

R.Lakshmi Priya

Principal

Lakshmi Priya has a rich vein of experience in teaching and grooming talents for more than 25 years now. She has trained about 750 students till date and the number only keeps increasing. She is passionate about teaching and her main goal is to identify and nurture talents, groom them and help them grow in their musical careers.

She started learning classical music under Sita Lakshmi Ganapathi when she was 7 years old. She was continuing her musical career in Salem until she was in her tenth grade before she moved in to Chennai to hone her skills in music. After higher school, she wanted to take up Music as her main stream of education and got admitted in Queen Mary’s College, Chennai where she completed her Masters in Music. After college days, she got a chance to sing in Kuchipudi art academy for 3 years which was run by Vempatti Chinna Satyam.

She has also worked as a lecturer at the prestigious “Music academy, Chennai” for 2.5 years where she got a chance to work with legends like V.Rajam Iyer. She later took up teaching in PSBB millennium school and continued teaching kids for 3 years.

She spent 15 years of her career working for the eminent musician, Shri. Ramjhi who had been running a musical troop called “Ramjhi Issai Mazhalai”. She was managing two of his centres in Nanganallur and Chrompet. She always had deep interests in teaching, which is why she is always inclined to teaching throughout her career continuing her journey till date. Despite her teaching commitments, she still undergoes training from “Kalaimamani” Shri. Srimushnam Rajarao and Smt. Padma Chandilyan


Achievements:

  • Performed in All India Radio, Chennai as Youth Programmer
  • Performed in Doordarshan as a Youth Performer,
  • Participated in Sahasra Deepalankarana Seva at Tirupati Tirumala
  • Participated in Thyagaraja Utsavam at Tiruvaiaru
  • Have given Carnatic performances in Sun TV.

Kalyani Gowri Shankar

Co-founder and Director

Kalyani, the Co-Founder of the institution, is also acting as the Operational Director. She is a professionally trained singer or a music professional holding an M.A. in Music.

Kalyani made her entry to the world of singing and dancing at the age of 10. Her formal singing training commenced when she started learning from Smt. Lalitha Seetharaman. Since then, the learning didn’t stop as she pursued her training from other gurus like Smt. Leelavathi Gopalakrishnan and Smt. Anandhi. She also started learning Veena from Smt.Prema when she was 13 years old and continued learning from Smt. Hema Veeraraghavan and Smt. Jayalakshmi, who is known as “Veenai” Jayalakshmi.

She was also pursuing her interest in Bharatanatyam as she was also attending dance classes since she was 10 years old. She started learning from Smt. Anitha and continued learning from Smt.Dakshayani for about 8 years.

The passion for singing had dragged her to pursue a master’s degree in music, in Queen Mary’s College, Chennai. Not surprisingly, she came out of the college as a University topper.

Since teaching is her other passion, she started taking Carnatic vocals, keyboard, and Veena classes to young children right from her college days. Apart from music, she also taught Bharatanatyam to young kids. This seed has now grown as an institution for sharing her knowledge with all the young minds out there.

She got an opportunity to sing for the famous music director, Sri. "Thenisai thendral" Deva for a feature film. She has also sung many songs for satellite movies which were dubbed from other languages to Tamil. Apart from movies, she has sung many advertisement jingles and performed in several concerts.

She has appeared in many reality shows including Rajageetham (Raj TV), Paadava Duet Paadalai (Kalaingar TV), Ennodu Paattu Paadungal (Jaya TV), Dheemtharikida (Kalaingar TV), Paattukku Paattu (Kalaingar TV), Sa re ga ma pa (Zee Tamil), Isai Ilavarasar (Podhigai TV).

She has had the privilege of sharing her voice with legendary singers like T.M.Soundararajan, Malaysia Vasudevan & Deepan Chakravarthy in various stage shows. She has been very active in social media, especially in “Smule” where she has a huge following.


Achievements:

A multi-faceted personality, Kalyani has won many accolades in her journey of pursuing various art forms. Below are a few:

  • Have extensive teaching and training experience for over 10 years and instructed students in music theory, harmony and composition with advanced teaching techniques. In her journey as a teacher, she has received numerous letters of recommendation and appreciation from students, parents and music lovers.
  • Leads orchestra and choral groups in regular and special performances for several programs and concerts.
  • Was invited to conduct a workshop on "Tamil Folk Music" for Ang Mo Kio Primary School, Singapore
  • Won numerous awards, certificates and prizes in music competitions.
  • Title winner of “Oliyin Kural Vettai”, a music competition conducted by Oli 96.8 FM, Singapore
  • Have won a state-level prize in Mehndi competition conducted by Kilpauk Medical College in 2007.
  • Have published a book on Mehndi designs named “The Exotic Art of Mehndi” (ISBN : 978-81-925459-1-2)

Testimonials

‘‘Blessed to have teacher Kalyani as the music teacher for my daughter Ananya. She is the one who truly wants the best for her students. She always keeps her class more interesting so that kids can focus and concentrate. Being from a non-musical background, Ananya is able to explore her music interest with the teacher’s support and guidance. Thank you so much for being an amazing teacher’’ – Mrs. Chitra Manivannan, Singapore

I know Mrs. Kalyani for more than a decade..So I knew I’m making the right decision by enrolling my daughter to learn carnatic music from her.. My daughter is just three and a half years old; but Kalyani knew how to handle the little kid! Though my daughter loves singing all day, it’s definitely not an easy task to make her sit and learn through online lessons. Mrs. Kalyani nailed it! She is very flexible and friendly to the kids and their requirements.. She customised the classes according to my little one.. That made my daughter to listen to her music teacher and learn.. We wish Mrs. Kalyani all success in her new venture – Mrs. Oviyam, UK

‘‘My daughter has been learning music from teacher Kalyani since March 2020. Last year, my 5 year old vehemently demanded to stop the carnatic classes she was going to. This year, since the time we started classes with teacher Kalyani, I notice that she looks forward to her weekly sessions. What makes her different is the various tricks she follows to help kids enjoy the music and to keep them engaged throughout the session. I see that my daughter is happy throughout the session and not bored. She gives each child attention as per their abilities and needs. It eliminates any undue pressure on a small child and makes the whole learning process enjoyable’’ – Mrs. Priya Jayaraman, Singapore

‘‘I learned fundamentals and Carnatic music nuances from teacher Kalyani. She is truly patient to a learning student and her voice is inspirational’’ – Harshrita, Singapore

"My daughter is learning Carnatic music with Kalyani for nearly 6 months. They way she interacts and creates interest in kids is very good. She is kind, very friendly and patient. She is an excellent teacher . Her voice is truly Divine. My daughter really enjoys her classes. And I hope my daughter continues her music journey with Kalyani forever." – Mrs. Abisheka, Singapore

"Dear Team Vidyarthi, Its a great pleasure for us to join our daughter Parimi Akshara with this institute as we witnessed tremendous growth in her learning. Due to the continuous encouragement from her Guru Kalyani, her scale is improved from A to C. She gained confidence in singing and she is introduced to different styles of singing with all the efforts from her teachers. Our sincere thanks to teacher Kalyani for her dedication and passion in teaching to the kids. Best wishes to the team of Vidyarthi.” – Mrs. Parimi Sridevi, Singapore

Madhu Iyer

Mentor (Advanced Level Carnatic Music, Manodharmam and Music Therapy)

Madhu Iyer started her singing journey at the age of 4. Her immense interest in the art made her take up music as her mainstream of education. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree, specializing in music from Queen Mary’s College, Chennai. She has been learning Carnatic music for over 10 years and also imparts her knowledge to music enthusiasts for many years now.

As they say “Learning doesn’t stop till your last breath”, Madhu continues to learn Carnatic music from Shri. Vasanth Kumar, Son of late Smt. Sulochana Pattabhiraman and Shri. Shriram Parasuram. She is also learning other forms of music, such as Hindustani from Shri. Shriram Parasuram. Her interest in western music made her take up piano and she has successfully completed 5 levels in Keyboard and piano at prestigious Trinity College of Music, London.

Exploring deeper in music and its effects on mental health, she has completed a course in MUSIC THERAPY (Level 1) which uses music as a tool to help and heal people across all ages and backgrounds.

Specialising in Carnatic music, she has also performed in the famous sabhas such as The Music Academy Madras , Naradha Gana Sabha, Brahma Gana Sabha, Kamarajar Arangam, etc.

Madhu is a well-known playback singer in the Tamil film industry and has also performed live concerts around the world such as US, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Gulf, Sri Lanka and some parts of Europe. One of her notable overseas tours include the musical tour of MAESTRO ILAYARAJA in countries like US,CANADA,AUSTRALIA AND SINGAPORE in 2018.

Madhu has also collaborated with artists across globe using platforms such as Indian Raga and also has released her own independent music videos on YouTube.

Achievements:

  • Performed at the prestigious THE MUSIC ACADEMY MADRAS for RADEL mid-year concerts( 2018) after getting selected through auditions
  • Grade artist of ALL INDIA RADIO
  • Recipient of “Jayamalika” award for young achievers by Jayadharini Trust
  • Recipient of “Raadhu” award by Raadhu foundation presented by Shri. Ashok Ramani
  • Performed in the presence of “Bharat Ratna” Dr. M.S.Subbulakshmi and received a Saraswathi idol as a memento of appreciation
  • One of the top 5 best voices recognized by Airtel / Vijay TV (Season 2 and 3- 2011 and 2013)
  • Awarded “Maharajapuram Santhanam Award” by Narada Gana Sabha for best carnatic vocalist, 2014.

Testimonials

I have been learning music for a while now, but it’s only when I started learning from Madhu Akka, I got to learn the crux of Carnatic music. A student would always hope for a teacher who is patient, even-tempered and if luck persists, a guide who is also her friend, and in that way I think I am very lucky. She goes out of her way to give me more than music and sometimes friendly advice as well. It’s almost a year since I have started learning with her, and I can see that the progress I have had this past one year is much much more than in the many years prior to that.

"You will get there" is what she says when I can't get a note or a phrase right. She has been giving me nothing but constant encouragement and support, which has only increased my passion and love for Carnatic music. I am so happy to be a student of hers, and hope to sing alongside her someday! - Thilaga Kathir, India

Pallavi Vinothkumar

Vocal instructor

Pallavi Vinothkumar (D/o Kalaimamani S.N Surendar, Play back artist) is a professionally trained Vocal instructor. She started learning music at the age of 5 from Swaralaya Music and Arts Institute, Chennai.

Pallavi’s musicography:

She have sung many jingles in the advertisement films on radio and television (SV Ramanan productions). Her very first playback song was with none other than with Shankar Mahadevan for the movie Veluthu Kattu.

She have done innumerable stage shows with her dad and his orchestra. Her Dad helped her nurture her singing all through her music.

She has also done various other devotional albums for Pondicherry Aurobindo (Music by Thiru Gangaiamaran).

She has also done scripts and dubbing for cartoon Network (Tamil) and Chutti TV.

A celebrity Family

When we talk about Pallavi we can not go without talking about her famous dad S.N.Surendar. Pallavi is the daughter of the famous Tamil playback singer, dubbing artist S.N.Surendar sir. He sung more than 500 recorded songs for music directors including Illayaraja sir, and sung with S.Janaki, K.S.Chitra, Vani Jayaram, SPB and Mano. His voice is the life behind the Tamil film actor Mohan of 70s and 80s fame and Malayalam movie actor Prathaap Pothan. He sung songs for his famous Nephew Mr illaiyathalapathy Vijay and many other South India actors including Kamal Sir (in Telugu).

Lakshmi Viswanathan

Carnatic Music Instructor

Lakshmi started singing and stage performances at the age of 5 under the guidance of her mother Latha viswanathan and guru vid Balasubramaniam. She has been learning carnatic music under Vid.Smt Nagavalli Giridhar for more than 10 years. She has completed her Masters in music from Jain University Bangalore. She is also training under voice expert Ananth Vaidyanathan, Predish Gangadharan and Jawahar Pankaj.

Lakshmi has sung in Divyamrutham, Sunadavinodhini and various other albums. She has also sung for few kannada movies. She has participated in various events oraganised by Baala prathibhe, Ajantha kalakshetra, Hombale, Sri Shankara jayanthi seva trust, karnataka Rakshana vedike and various other stages. She has been performing in Dasa sahithya project in Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam.

Achievements:

  • Certified as B Grade Artist under the category of Devotional Music Vocal in AIR.
  • Received Gaana Sudha Award from Sree Shankara Jayanthi Sev Trust.
  • Performed in Daasa Saahithya project of Sahasradeepalankara Seva at Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanams.
  • Title winner of Yaar Antha Star 2020 organized by Smule Singers group.
  • Selected in Yuvavani under the categories – Bhavageethe and Devotional Music.
  • Participation in Edhe thumbi haadidenu- ETV Kannada in 2007 and Quarter Finalist in Voice of Bangalore in 2015.

Mamtha Rao

Dance Instructor

Mamtha Vignesh has been extremely blessed to be a part of a family that has been rich in art and culture. Her grandfather, Karnataka Kalashree, Kalaimamani Late Sri Guru Udupi Laxminarayan, founder and ex-director of Natya Manjari was a revered classical dancer and teacher. He takes great pride having taught the classical art to the renowned brothers, Sri Prabhu Deva (actor, dancer, director), Sri Raju Sundaram & Sri Nagendra Prasad and many other foreign nationals who have come in search of learning this art form. His daughter and disciple, Udupi Smt Madhumathy Prakash (BA Music, MFA Dance, Director Natya Manjari) has taken over the reins and is successfully cultivating the pronounced dance form from the year 1989 and also the nuances and intricacies of the art, theory and nattuvangam in her students. She has published a book "UDUPI SPHOORTHI RANJANAM" and the theory of Bharatanatyam and "LAGHU NRITYA SANGRAHA" on the music compositions of her father Guru Sri Udupi Laxminarayan. She has widely travelled to countries for spreading our culture and conducting workshops and lecture demonstrations on this divine art form. For her talent, service and dedication she has been bestowed with numerous awards and titles over the years.

Being the granddaughter & niece of such legends, and having learnt the art from them, Mamtha Vignesh has done ample justice to the Gurus by taking up the art form at a very young age of 3. She has been well-versed in staging dance recitals from the age of 7 (dancing experience for the past 24 years), participating in all the dance shows of Natya Manjari in a lead role and numerous other competitions. Mamtha has also been performing nattuvangam and teaching students of Natya Manjari since 2004 (16 years of experience). She has trained her students who have performed their Salangai Pooja and Arangetram efficiently.

Hunching upon her interests in Bharatanatyam, she developed her career in music and dance, having pursued her M.A in Music and her MFA in Dance (Sastra University) under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Padma Subramaniam.

Apart from Natya Manjari, Mamtha has also worked as an academic dance and music teacher in reputed schools like PSBB Millennium, Chennai and Tips (The Indian Public School), Salem. She has been a very flamboyant artist having choreographed and staged numerous dance shows, both traditional and fusion


Achievements:

  • Won the “Best Upcoming Artist” for the year 2004-05 from Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram, Tamil Nadu Govt.
  • Performed on various stages under the banner of Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram
  • Performed in all major sabhas (Karthik Fine Arts, Pushpanjali trust, Ganamukundhapriya trust, Mylapore Fine arts, VDS arts academy to name a few) and temples all over India, accounting to more than 120 programmes
  • Distinction in lower grade dance technical exams conducted by Tamil Nadu Govt
  • Participated and danced alongside Sri Prabhu Deva in "Rajini 25" (a show organized by Sun TV in 2000) marking Superstar's 25 years of excellence in the cine field
  • Won numerous prizes and awards in school and college level competitions

Lalitha Subramaniam

Dance/Vocal Instructor

Lalitha Subramaniam is a professionally trained Dancer and Singer. She has a Master Degree in Bharathanatiyam (Allied Carnatic Music) from Madras University, Diploma in Nattuvangam from Annamalai University, Diploma in Bharathanatiyam from Adayar Music College and B.sc Computer Science from Sri Sankara Arts and Science College.

Lalitha has been learning Dance for the past 15 years under, Guru Shri S. Pandiyan in Kanchipuram. She also pursued Nattuvangam training from Guru Shri Pandiyan for the past 5 years. She has given several stage performances all over India. She is adorned with the title "Yuva Sri Kala Bharathi" by Madurai Yuva kendra in the year 2011. She has participated and performed in many Dance Dramas.

She also has passion towards Music and so she followed that passion and started learning Music, under Guru Smt. Sridevi Ayyagiri, Hyderabad. Her keen interest in Music paved way to learn Bhajans, Thirupugazh and Slokas in a Musical format that interests audience of all age. She has given stage performances with her Guru and have participated and performed in Thyaga Brahmam, Thiruvaiyar in the year 2020.

Her passion for Dance and Music made her want to pass on her knowledge and that’s how her teaching journey began. She has also done several choreography for her students for various programmes and competitions. She has the ability to get acquainted with all the age groups and apply suitable learning technique for the suitable age groups. She also makes her teaching interesting by telling stories which helps the students to understand and remember the concept in a better way.


Achievements:

  • “Navarasa Nayagi, Nattuvanga Kalaimani by Guru Thiru S. Pandiyan.
  • Received Gopi Krishna Award, by All India Artists Association, Shimla.
  • Have Performed in TV channels like Kalaignar, Podhigai and Sankara (Natyaratna).
  • Title winner of Bengaluru Maha Utsav 2019 (Solo) conducted by Sri Sankara TV.

Sheik Meera

Keyboard Instructor

At a very tender age, Sheik Meera started playing keyboard. Ever since then, there has been no looking back. A gifted pianist and keyboardist from Chennai, Sheik Meera was born on the 13th April 1991 to Mr S. Hashmad Babu and Mrs S.Reshma Sulthana.

He has a lot of experience and 1000s of concerts to his credit and is one of the very few solo artists in the country.

Sheik has performed in a diverse array of events like the Times Of India concert, Indian Premier League, Rotaract-hearts, Sangarsh, Chennai Sangamam, Vijay awards, filmfare, etc. Sheik has a very good experience in working with various instruments including those from Roland, Korg, Yamaha. He is also adept at playing the Keytar – a very rare and unique instrument. He has worked with top entertainment companies like the John Britto and top DJs and artists across the country.

Sheik has also shown his prowess as a global artist by performing at world fusion concerts and global jazz festivals. He has also collaborated with many global bands, international event management companies and performed in many countries, thereby widening his horizon and sharpening his axe simultaneously. Being an artist of such high caliber, Sheik is often the choice of top cultural fests in Chennai like the IIT Sarang, Techofes etc, both for pro-show performances as well as judging the competitions.

Sheik Meera is the founder of top bands in the city. “SPARX MUSIC BAND” – One of the busiest bands in Chennai – the band never ceases to amuse you with their incredibly classy performances with a strong appeal to the common masses as well. This band is known for its collaboration with renowned musicians from the industry. Most of their performances feature reality show performers and playback singers.


Achievements:

  • One of the few in Asia to have completed 8th grade in Piano with a merit from Trinity College of Music, London
  • Have performed in 1000s of concerts across the globe
  • Have worked in the Tamil film industry with renowned musicians like SP Venkatesh, SS Thaman, Devi Sri Prasad, SP Balasubramaniam, Anuradha Sriram to name a few.
  • Has done a feature film called “Pazhagiya Naatkal” as a “HERO & MUSIC DIRECTOR”.

Surya Kamalakannan

Keyboard Instructor

Hailing from the southern part of India, Surya Kamal initially started learning Carnatic vocals and later learnt to play the keyboard in the Carnatic style. To attain mastery over the instrument, he took up Western classical training and has completed 7 grades under the Trinity College. His exposure and expertise in multiple genres made him a fantastic composer and a teacher. Currently Surya is a part of many leading bands in India including Lyricless Melodies and Augmented 6th. He has composed music for many independent tracks, documentaries and short films. Surya also composed the first anthem for the organisation VOIMG (Voice of India's Missing girls) led by actor Sarath Kumar in the year 2011. Surya also enjoys experimenting and composing numbers in rare Indian Ragas.

Coming from a non-musical family background, he was passionate about music from childhood. Though he was working full time in a corporate, he always made sure he spent every evening in upgrading his musical skills.

He then decided to take up music as his fulltime profession and started dedicating his life for music thus producing soulful songs. He has performed in many stages across India and overseas, entertaining large crowd of people.


Achievements:

  • Received the "BHARADHIYA KALA BARADHI AWARD" for the best musician under the age 18.
  • Titled the "Best Singer" & "Best Keyboardist" in "FOOTLOOSE 2017" conducted by the Amazon Development Center.
  • Composed the first anthem for the organisation "VOIMG - Voice of India's Missing Girl" led by Actor Sarath Kumar in the year 2011

Aswathy Nair

Music Instructor, Hindustani Music

Aswathy Nair, brought up in Kolkata, west bengal, is a professionally trained singer and holds a Masters Degree in Hindusthani music from Rabindra Bharti Universty, West Bengal and Sangeet visharad from Bengal Music college, Calcutta University.

She has been learning Music and dance since the age of 6. Pursued Carnatic music under Shri Shankara Bhagavathar and Smt Saraswathy Radhakrishnan for five years and then forayed into Hindusthani Music. Got trained in Bharatnatyam, under guru Kalamandalam Shri Venkitt and Smt Preetha Venkitt for 15 years. She has been learning Hindusthani music as per Guru shishya parampara, initially under the guidance of Late. Smt Leena Chakraborthy and currently pursuing under Shri Shirshendu Mukherjee. And also gained her lessons in Rabindra Sangeet from Smt Manisha Murali.

She started off her stage performances from the age of 8 and has performed across India and has been blessed to perform with the likes of Shri Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri, Shri Debjyothi Mishra, Rathish Vega, Deepankuran etc. Entry into film play back singing happened with a track recording for the Legend Illayaraja Sir and then sung in Malayalam movies Dhoore and Padmini, directed by famous writer Shri Susmesh Chandroth and Music by Shri Sreevalsan J Menon and various other music albums. Also sang various jingles including one for ClubFm, music by Govind vasantha.

She has also had her anchoring stints for music programs with Kairali Channel and Kerala Vision. Performed in various Tv channels which includes Kappa tv, Surya tv, Kairali Tv and radio channels.

Have been performing Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geetis in various events. She was fortunate to receive invitation and blessings from the Legend Shri M T Vasudevan Nair for rendering Rabeendra Sangeet at Thunchan parambu, Tirur, Kerala.

She has been teaching for the last three years, both offline and online. Arangettam was facilitated for her students last year at Ernakulathappan Temple, Ernakulam in 2019.

Achievements:

  • Play back singing for the movie “Padmini” directed by Susmesh chandroth and Music composed by Sreevalsan J Menon.
  • Sung for various music albums and advertisement jingles.
  • Worked with eminent music directors like Govind Vasantha.
  • Presented music programs for various Television channels including Kairali TV.
  • Performed Rabindra sangeet “I and Nazrul Geeti” in various venues.