Smt. Shanti Raghavan is a well known teacher in the Cleveland area. She has been teaching Carnatic music for the past 25 years. She is an exponent of the Karaikudi style of Veena.
From the beginning she displayed an innate talent for music and she delighted her teachers as she progressed quickly from one level to the next. She hails from a family of musicians. Her mother, a devout lover of Carnatic music, was an excellent violinist. Her sister, Smt. Mohana Santhanam is a disciple of Shri Jayarama Iyer, a disciple of Shri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Thus, Smt. Shanti Raghavan’s childhood years were inundated with these two very powerful styles of music.
She saw teaching Carnatic music as an opportunity to introduce Indian culture to children growing up in The United States. Therefore, no child has been turned away on the basis of lack of talent. Instead, she has taken a disciplined approach to creating talent in all students who show an interest. In addition to bringing awareness of Indian culture to her students, Smt. Shanti Raghavan has a sincere belief that music is a truly spiritual experience that brings people closer to the Almighty. She also believes that learning music brings balance to academics and enriches all parts of life. This sincere passion has touched both parents and children alike. Not only passing on the art form has been important but trying to make music part of the very being of the students has been a goal.
Shruti Raghavan Aring began her musical career at a very young age. She began singing as soon as she was able to talk, and even at that young age she was able to maintain raga and shruthi. She performed for the first time at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival at the age of four. Her first and primary guru during her formative years was her mother. She received additional short term training under such eminent musicians Jayalakshmi Santhanam, T.K. Govinda Rao, and T.N. Bala of Philadelphia. She also studied Carnatic Violin under Sivaganesan, a well-known violinist in Chennai, and Narasimhamurthy of Mysore, disciple of M.S. Gopalakrishnan. She was awarded multiple first prizes at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana competitions in both the vocal and violin categories.
After high school she travelled to Chennai, India for advanced vocal training. She studied under Sri Vaigal Gananaskandan, disciple of Sri Semmangudi Srinivas Iyer and former director of All India Radio. Within six months, Shruti had her vocal arangetram. The title of Sangeetha Bhaskara was awarded to her by the Gnanaskandan Trust for her extraordinary achievement in such a short amount of time. Since then, Shruti has continued to perform and has given concerts all over the USA and India and has taken further training from Chitraveena N. Ravikiran.
Shruti has been actively teaching since 2003. She is a co-founder of Ragapriya School of Carnatic Music along with her mother, and has mentored several students to complete vocal arangetrams.
In 2008 Mrs. Shanti Raghavan and her daughter Mrs. Shruti Aring founded a non-profit organization called The Ragapriya School of Carnatic Music. The goal of this school is to teach and promote Carnatic music in Northeast Ohio. The school seeks to provide a high quality musical education by combining music theory with vocal, violin and veena classes. With a disciplined training the students would be able to not only appreciate, but also perform in social and cultural events thereby increasing their confidence and self esteem. Bhajans and sloka classes, karaoke music as well as music appreciation classes are also available for those interested. The school sponsors performances by community members and by professionals in order to make music a regular part of their lives. While the primary focus is on children, this school will reach out to everyone who is interested in learning music. The goal is to fill a need for structured and comprehensive musical instruction.
In keeping with the school’s goals, the Ragapriya School has produced several thematic music programs. The inaugural program was entitled “Great Composers in Carnatic Music” and covered the lives and compositions of a dozen composers. Other programs included the Dasavatara (the ten avataras of Vishnu) and a program about Devi (the life force and energy), which was a fundraiser for Sankara Nethralaya. Another successful program was the Ramayana (2012) which traced the story of Rama from birth to Pattabhishekham through storytelling and music. This was very educational for the whole audience and the students put out an outstanding performance. Each year, the school sends children to perform in various community music programs.