PETALING JAYA: It was music to Malini Nageswaran’s ears when her students confidently presented a variety of songs in front of their friends during a performance.
Along with her husband Vinesh Kumar Palani, they had struck a chord with a group of underprivileged children when they started teaching them music.
Malini, 32, said the coaching provided the children with more than just musical knowledge – it equipped them with life skills.
“We give them vocal lessons and teach them basic music fundamentals. We introduce instruments to them and even teach them rhythm and beats.
“Our main goal, however, is to teach them skills such as leadership, collaboration and teamwork. We use music as our ‘tool’,” she said.
The pilot programme, called My Music Gang, started in February with the children from Pure Life Society.
Every Tuesday, Malini and Vinesh would go to the Pure Life Society shelter home to give vocal and music coaching lessons to a group of about 20 students, aged between seven and 17.
Although the pilot programme lasted for four months, the positive outcome could clearly be seen during the children’s “graduation” ceremony where they had to perform.
“The girl who was emceeing the event in English – she was actually a reserved person and would never talk to a stranger. But she emceed the whole event that day.
“There was another boy singing Rasa Sayang. Before this, he did not even know how to speak Bahasa Malaysia,” she said proudly.
Seeing how the programme benefited the children, Malini plans to roll out a one-year programme and bring it to other organisations.
“If the children’s literacy and confidence can be developed within these four months, it has to go on.
“A few organisations have approached me. They loved the idea.
“The programme is not only for kids, it can be tailored for adults,” she said.
Malini admitted that running the programme was not without its challenges.
Getting enough funding to buy instruments and recruiting volunteers to mentor them are some of the challenges she has to deal with.
Another challenge, she said, is juggling between My Music Gang and her full-time job as a mathematics teacher.
When asked why she wanted to teach music for this project instead of other school subjects, Malini said music offers incidental learning.
“Music and arts programmes have shown evidence in supporting cognitive development, social and emotional skills learning and academic excellence for children.
“When music is involved in the learning, that’s when students get attracted to learn more,” she said.