Skype helps classical vocalist stay in sync with students

Sandeep Ranade is a software engineer by training, with work experience in several U.S. companies, including Microsoft and Google. He is also a Hindustani classical vocalist who began singing at the age of four and has learned the principles of his craft from gurus like the late Dr. Shobha Abhyankar and Padma Vibhushan Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj. Now, thanks to Skype, he’s passing his knowledge along to students the world over.

Sandeep Ranade as a young boy tinkers with a musical instrument.

Early on, while juggling both academics and music, Ranade developed techniques to compress his vocal routine. Using insights learned from mathematics, computer science, neurology, software testing, learning theory, and vocal anatomy, he taught himself a way to shorten his daily vocal workouts. “I have been able to compress vocal workout time to one hour per day, the uncompressed equivalent of which is about twelve hours,” Ranade says. He calls this optimized system “Naadyoga,” or “yoga of sound.”

When Ranade came to Redmond, Washington, in 2005 to work for Microsoft, he began giving Naadyoga lessons face to face. Several years later, he moved to California, but didn’t want to give up his new passion for teaching. He knew he needed a video conferencing tool to continue. “Skype was new, but all the rage, and it was surprisingly easy to use, for me and my students,” he says. He even maintained a long-distance relationship with his future wife using Skype.

Profile picture of Sandeep Ranade, Hindustani classical vocalist.

Since then, Ranade’s number of students—and their geographic diversity—has increased. He has taught students in Toronto, New York, Boston, Melbourne, Zurich, London, Cupertino, Fort Collins, Seattle, and Pune. Utilizing Skype’s robust video conferencing capabilities, he has taught aspiring vocalists singly, and in groups. “I had one batch of students whom I taught at the same time—one from Zurich, one in London, and one in Seattle!”

Teaching music over the internet means you sometimes have to get creative—and Ranade is just that. To teach “taal,” or “rhythm,” compositions online he created over 75 supplemental videos for his students, combining them with Skype lessons to create an eclectic course—and an effective learning environment.

Something Ranade is proud of is that, reading student reactions to his lessons, one sees no mention of whether his pupils are taking the lessons remotely or in person. The only reaction is that of satisfaction. He attributes this to Skype’s seamless interface, where the content is the focus of the call, and the experience is immersive. “As a teacher, I can’t stress how important it is for me to create experiences where it doesn’t matter whether I’m remote or collocated with my students. Thank you, Skype, for truly bringing the world closer, one person at a time!”

Ranade is now back in India. In addition to running the startup Endless Evolution, which he and his wife cofounded, he continues his adventures in music and teaching, carrying on these lifelong passions without disruption. Skype continues to help him and his students from all over the world connect and make music together—bringing them face to face to experience the “yoga of sound” and learn from one another, one call at a time.

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