The inclination towards learning music, then and now, has witnessed a sea change, with various developments taking place in the musical field.
Before the liberation of Goa, there were no music schools in Goa and the only place where music, mostly solfeggio, was taught was at the Escola Parochial (parochial school). In those days, students would go to government schools for education in the mornings. And in the evenings, it was tuition imparted by the local parish priest.
In between those tuition classes, the mestri (choir master of the church) would take the trouble and the initiative to train students in solfeggio. Reading and writing of musical notes or notations was a must, and the best among them would later get a chance to play the violin.
“During that era, the only instrument seen in the church was the violin,” informed Fr Peter Cardozo, the founder of the Pilar Music School, at Pilar, and one who heads the Pilar Music Academy as well. “Those who learnt the solfeggio, and were really good at music, would also get a chance to learn how to play the violin,” he shared.
“At, that point of time, people could not afford to buy a violin,” Fr Cardozo explained, “and so the mestri would generously lend his own violin during the practice sessions. And, those who had a knack for music would pick up quickly and learn music (both theory and practical) in no time!” he said.
“After Liberation, education in the English language stepped in, and those parochial schools were shut down,” Fr Cardozo shared from his experience. “During the pre-Liberation period, education was in Portuguese, and only a handful of people could afford to go and win it over,” he mentioned.
THE PILAR MUSIC SCHOOL
The Pilar Music School, at Pilar, came into existence in 1979 and since then, it has been training students from the neighbouring villages of Agassaim, Mandur, Neura, Carambolim, Goa Velha, Batim, Siridao and Bambolim. “With the opening of the music school,” Fr Cardozo said, “the students have various options to learn music.”
The Pilar fathers have opened four branches of the music school across Goa, namely Pilar, Margao, Porvorim and Sanguem. And, the students are trained in solfeggio, violin, guitar, keyboard and drums.
After the Liberation of Goa, the only music school in existence was at Margao, and it was run by the late Fr Camilo Xavier. But, that school catered only to the musical needs of those students residing in South Goa.
Thereafter, the Pilar Fathers took the initiative of opening a music school in Pilar, Tiswadi. And, following the demand of children and youth to learn music, more schools were opened in North and South Goa.
The Pilar Music Academy, headed by Fr Peter Cardozo, is part of the Society of Pilar. The academy guides all the existing music schools across the state.
There are various musical programmes conducted annually by the academy, and include operas, operettas, music concerts, orchestras and choral groups, which help students to showcase their musical talents.