N Ravikiran


Ravikiran was mentored by the revolutionary Chitravina Narasimhan and the iconic T Brinda. Inspired by them as well as a number of other great architects of music and other walks of life, he has himself mentored perhaps the largest number of award winning and sought after performers in the field today.  His students include vocalists as well as exponents of diverse instruments including violin, chitravina, veena, flute, clarinet, keyboard and guitar.  Many of his students are also educators themselves and have trained other performers. Several thousand students have benefited through live or online lessons from Ravikiran and a select few have had formal launches (arangetrams) over the years.  

As a guru, he has always stood for the highest standards of excellence, integrity to the art and musical values and has emphasised on perfection with correctness as well as self-enjoyment in his classes, lectures, articles and posts.  Significantly, Ravikiran has introduced Indian Carnatic Classical Music to a number of schools and colleges in USA and Europe. 

Pioneering initiatives

  • Ravikiran was the first to pioneer Tele-Teaching, the first distance learning program in Indian Music in 1996 (long before Skype, Zoom etc evolved).
  • He is also the Pioneer of the Flipped Classroom Model since 2005 and hundreds of his lessons have benifted students across the globe through  Acharyanet.
  • He is the first of have introduced Indian music to hundreds of schools across India as well as countries like USA & Germany through concerts, lectures & orchestral Melharmonic compositions 
  • He is also the first to have introduced Carnatic music in Rural Schools in India for over 31,000 children (in 2006).
  • He has inspired and trained students from non-Southern Indian states such as Gujarat and Bengal as also citizens of USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Slovenia, France, Germany etc.
  • He is among the rare breed of artists who has not only mentored students of South Indian origin but also those from other parts of India and the world.
  • A Master Trainer in Texas Folk-Life Program, Ravikiran has mentored master trainers in other US states
  • Ravikiran’s various albums through his ensemble, Vintage Virtuosos have inspired both students and music lovers 

Rural Music Education

From his teens, Ravikiran has passionately striven to de-regionalise and de-religionise music.  He has strongly emphasized that classical arts are not inaccessible to the majority as is portrayed and proved this during his trail-blazing partnership with the Indian Government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhyan in which over 31,000 children across the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu participated and admirably sang the simple songs in sophisticated ragas like Sahana and Yadukulakambhodhi which he had set to music.  

Some of the factors that have contributed to his being among the most sought after gurus are his:

  • Inspiring concerts, classes, lectures and articles
  • Immense and diverse repertoire of masterpieces from authentic sources 
  • Creative abilities as both performer and composer
  • Conviction in his art and values
  • Vast and deep musical vision
  • Eye for detail and perfection 
  • Zest to share his knowledge with genuine students of the art
  • Awareness of the best approaches for each instrument or voice which enables him to evolve teaching methods accordingly
  • Ability to clearly communicate to students of any age, level, region or background with clarity, wit and humour
  • Progressive outlook and openness to discuss even contrary viewpoints irrespective of a student’s age 
  • Readiness to mentor students not only in music but also in every aspect of their career and life, when sought by them
  • Constant innovations with respect to adapting current and emerging technology to project and preserve tradition
  • His vast and varied experience as a guru

Approach & attitude

Ravikiran has stressed on right attitude, positive approach, discipline, focus, consistent industriousness, humility, respect towards quality artistes and achievers, besides an active and inquisitive mind that is keen to improve all the time.  Equally importantly, he has urged his students to eschew insincerity and negativism in any form. He has emphasized that:

  • A deep awareness and diligent adherence to grammar and focus on aesthetics are not mutually exclusive
  • Artistic indulgence under the garb of poetic license may be self serving but artistically destructive
  • Innovation should not be a camouflage for ignorance, shaky foundations in tradition or evasion of the rigours of classicism
  • Students must strive towards responsible musicianship and blend endearing appeal with enduring values 
  • Music of the highest level is the greatest reward and all other awards are incidental
  • The raga is bigger than all past, present and future artists put together.  Therefore, the first loyalty of an artist must always be to the raga, the next is to the great composers who immortalised them and only then to the gurus who taught them

On a lighter vein, while his first guru was his father Chitravina Narasimhan, Ravikiran’s first disciple was his mother Choodamani, who took lessons from him when he was 5-years old!

Well known students of Ravikiran

Though hundreds have learnt from Ravikiran, a few have risen to the level of performers, educators and contributors to and through music.  These include his siblings K N Shashikiran, Kiranavali Vidyasankar and cousin, Chitravina Ganesh who were mentored by him and his father from very early on.  A few others who have received at least 3 years of direct training under him have been mentioned here (in alphabetical order): Aditya Mohan, Anahita Ravindran, Apoorva RavindranArchana UpadhyayaBhargavi Balasubramanian,  Bhushan Toshnival, Emilija Kercan, Keyboard Brothers (Arjun & Narayanan), Neil Mukherji, Nupur Joshi, Pathangi Brothers, Prameela, Pranav Kikkeri, Renuka Suryanarayana, Petreeza Sabu, Samanvi, Sampath, Sanjay Suresh, Savita Narasimhan, Sindhu Prakash, Sowmya Acharya, T K Ramachandran, Vanitha Suresh, Veena Akhilandeshwari, Veena Sivakumar and Vishaal Sapuram.