There is one thing that unanimously scares a huge part of our country, and that is Mathematics. Formulas, theories, and equations! Most people have a traumatizing experience learning them. The few people who loved math, we call them geniuses. But what if I say learning math has now become easy and fun?
Oh yes! It has. A Hyderabad-based ed-tech company brought a creative solution to the math phobia the students of India face we couldn’t be more thankful. Bhanzu! This ed-tech startup teaches math through art forms. Doesn’t that sound super interesting?
22-year-old Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash of Hyderabad, who is the World’s Fastest Human Calculator, founded Bhanzu. Mr. Prachotan, a trained professional Carnatic musician himself, is one of the co-founders who actively works on curriculum development and heads the startup’s Business Development. Along with 2 other co-founders, they started their journey of eradicating global math phobia.
So this World Music Day, we decided to talk to one of the co-founders Mr. Prachotan who put his music career on hold and chose entrepreneurship. So, come on, let’s learn something interesting today.
1. Firstly Mr. Prachotan… Can you briefly tell us what is Bhanzu for you personally?
Personally, it means everything to me, Eradicating the math phobia and making everyone fall in love with math is the aim. I’ve been there from day 1, even before it was an ed-tech. So it’s a dream that is coming to reality now.
2. What is the driving force for Bhanzu?
The sheer impact that we’ve been creating and knowing that we have the potential to create even further. Students saying that they don’t fear math anymore and they actually like mathematics…is what keeps us going.
3. How did the idea of bringing music and math together come from?
People miss out on a lot when they look at math as just a subject. One cannot enjoy math when they are looking at math just to pass the exam and to something that is restricted to the academic outcomes. And most importantly this makes them miss out on a huge part.
And being an artist myself and having been performing for a long time, I think there are tons of benefits to looking at math from a different length and looking at music from the length of math as well. It’s vice versa. It’s been a tremendous learning for me, especially the artistic side of learning math and how abstraction comes into the picture. That’s something I have been exploring for a long time.
it’s not rocket science for students to learn as well and that is why it would be a great idea to introduce students to the world of music through the lens of math and vice versa. That’s how the idea originated. It’s a chunk of our curriculum, but an important one.
4. Since you are a trained musician yourself, can you tell us something about your musical days?
It’s been a fascinating journey all along. I’ve been a Carnatic classical single all my life. At the age of 2 ½, I recognized 144 Carnatic music raagas and entered the Limca Book of World Records and that’s how my journey started. I’ve been a relentless performer all my life, I performed all across the country until I took the leap of faith to become an entrepreneur at Bhanzu.
Can you tell us how hard was math for you as a kid?
I had a very unique experience with mathematics. I never struggled with math but I always had this doubt in terms of why a certain something was taught in a certain way. So, questioning the first principles of math was extremely necessary for anyone to go to the depths of it.
I never feared math but coming from a conventional math learning background I do see the gaping holes in the math learning ecosystem.
How teaching math through the lens of art has been a game-changer in classrooms?
Students have a lot of fun so it is the key takeaway. Though it’s not learning formal music, students are interested when something different comes their way. That was the first spark towards making them curious and making them know more about it. Students came up to me later and said that they joined piano classes because of these Bhanzu, that was a huge win.
Even when 1 or 2 students tell us something like that, it makes us feel good that we have a positive impact on somebody. Making students learn more art forms and more music, there’s nothing better for the world because art is what upholds our society. The impact is still on a micro-scale but the early signs of success are very high.
What are the topics covered under math in art?
Music is about patterns and patterns are mathematical as well so how do you recognize musical patterns through math and how can you create your own pattern using math these are things that are touched upon.
What is rhythm, the abstract part in music, and how can look at melody from the perspective of mathematics are the few topics that are covered.
How does learning math concepts via music help their cognitive abilities?
Basically, music helps a lot in terms of mental reflex & balance. The moment you learn piano, you become ambidextrous.
Learning art forms primarily impacts the dexterity of the mind which is tough to develop but art forms have the tendency to do it and music obviously has an upper hand over the other art forms. Looking at music through a structural length makes them sharper.
What is the response of the students that learned math through art?
Students absolutely love it because they haven’t seen something like this before!
What was the parents’ response to this unique learning of math?
Parents are very conscious about what their children are learning these days so it’s great when something new comes their way. They have responded very positively.
Lastly, who had the most influence on you while growing up?
No one person in particular. People around me give me a lot of inspiration.
The conversation with Mr. Prachotan was such an eye-opener to a great process of learning math. I hope this interview helps more people out there and Math becomes interesting to students through Bhanzu.
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