Dr. MeeraVillavarayar was one of the foremost educators of Carnatic music in Sri Lanka, who had, by way of a rare combination of musical expertise and scholarship, left an indelible mark in the field of teaching music. Being a practicing musician with the highest research degree in Carnatic music, she immensely contributed towards the development of musical education in Sri Lanka by teaching music, developing school curricula, conducting workshops for teachers of music, and authoring books for students.

Meera was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka on August 29th 1961, as the youngest of four children to Villavarayar and Bhuvaneswary. Her father was a connoisseur of Indian music. Meera took her first lesson in Carnatic music from her mother, who had her training in singing and veena under Doraiswamy Iyar in Jaffna in the 1940’s.

Meera was educated at two premiere cultural institutions established for Hindu girls in the island: The Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam, Colombo 6 and Ramanathan College, Chunnakam, Jaffna. Meera chose Music as her main field of study due to her strong interest in music, in spite of her aptitude and good grades in science subjects in an era where the social norm was to study science. She graduated with a Degree of Bachelor of Music with First Class from the University of Madras in 1982. She won the Anandavalli Sambamoorthy Gold Medal for having secured the First rank in Theory of Carnatic Music and the Second rank in Practical in Tamil Nadu State, and a Service Medal and Sankaracharya Medal for good conduct in the same year.

After her graduation, Meera had a temporary stint as an Instructor in Carnatic Music at Ramanathan Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Jaffna in 1984. She then joined the National Institute of Education (NIE) as a Project Officer in 1988. She was promoted to the post of Chief Project Officer in the Department of Aesthetics, National Institute of Education in May 1998, and held that position until her retirement in August 2011.

While being employed at the NIE, Meera received her Master of Arts in Music in 1993, having won the Government of India scholarship to study at the University of Kerala. She also secured the Postgraduate Diploma in Education with a merit pass in 1995. She was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Music by the Tamil University, Thanjavur, India in 2008 for her critical study of the contribution of Tevaram saints and Musical Trinity to the developmentm of Tamil music.

In her capacity as Chief Project Officer, Meera designed and developed curricula in Carnatic Music for Grade 6 – 13, functioned as Editor for Carnatic Music Teacher Guides from Grade 6-13, and conducted training programs in aesthetic subjects for Primary Teachers, Distance Education Teachers, In-service Advisors, Assistant Directors, Advanced Level Carnatic Music Teachers and Lecturers at Colleges of Education. She also produced audio cassettes to facilitate the learning of Carnatic music at schools: Kuzhanthai Padalgal for Primary Students (1989), Gita Manjari for Grades 6&7 (2010), Gita Manjari II for Grade II (2011). She sang a Tamil lullaby for Daru Nelavili Cassette (1989).

She held visiting lecturer positions in Carnatic music at Sri Palee Campus, University of Colombo and at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya. She was an External examiner for Vipulananda institute of Aesthetic studies affiliated to the Eastern University of Sri Lanka and also an External evaluator for Ph.D. dissertations submitted to the University of Madras, Bharathidasan University and Mother Theresa University in India.

She functioned as Co-coordinator/Colombo for the North Ceylon Oriental Music Society Examination and Chief examiner for music exams conducted by International Institute of Tamil Arts in Switzerland & Denmark. She presented papers at various conferences and contributed research articles to journals. She authored the following books on Theory of Carnatic Music for the benefit of students:

  • Introduction to Carnatic Music (2013) - Kumaran publication (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
  • Carnatic Music (2007) - International Institute of Tamil Arts (Zurich / Switzerland)
  • Isai IyalVilakkam Part III (2003) - Lanka Book Depot (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
  • Carnatic Music Payillamuraivillakam (2002) International Institute of Tamil Arts (Zurich / Switzerland)
  • Isai Iyal Vilakkam Part II (2002) - Lanka Book Depot (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
  • Isai Iyal Vilakkam Part I - Lanka Book Depot (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
  • Basic Carnatic Music Theory (1998)
  • An Introduction to Hindustani Music and Western Music (1997) - Lanka Book Depot (Colombo, Sri Lanka)

The impact of Meera’s contribution to the field of music will endure.