Bhaktapur Music School
In the late nineteenth century, the Shivalaya temple courtyard and its gate house were constructed for a well-to do merchant. In 1996 it became a delightful sanctuary for the study of music. Today sixty students study classical Nepali music in several buildings within the walled complex. Players of tabla practice amongst a display of shaman drums; students from the local high school sketch the courtyard’s shrines, a flautist stretches on a garden bench to play his flute, the security guard practices sham and the gardener digs weeds from the garden’s long brick pathways—all seeming to illustrate “points about musical instruction” that are posted on the school’s bulletin board:
"Induce the joy of music by way of group singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, various kinds of listening experiences and personal creation
Show how music is related to other mental and physical activities"
The school’s pavilion for performance was designed by Götz Hagmüller in temple-like perfection amongst the flowering trees and roses of the school’s garden. Resting on a base composed of a layer of rock and then brick, the pavilion provides shelter for practice on hot afternoons or during monsoon showers as well as place for performance. A white “Chinese” moon gate, bridges the garden with a sacred space containing a holy Shiva temple, several of Shiva’s bulls, and a row of Shiva linga concealed partly by fast-growing vegetation.
Hence the music school is host to separate but connected realms for study and contemplation. Within traditional buildings are intimate teaching spaces that have small wooden windows opening out to peaceful views. There is the courtyard with temples and shrines for divine worship, and the garden with its bamboo, roses, pomelo trees, pavilions and pond. Reflected in the pond are students practicing their instruments in a traditional paati (Newar-style resting place) that stands in a secluded corner.
(Text By Claire Burkert)