J.Shivakumar got his initial lessons in music from his family and his school music teachers. He had a brief but very valuable stint as a student under Mrs. Maragatham Ramaswamy in Madras. During his college days at IIT, he was inspired by his musician classmates including Madurai Sundar, K.S.Mani, Flute Bhaskar and so on and received valuable lessons. As the secretary of IIT Music Club, he gained new perspectives and saw the need for music appreciation lessons for the uninitiated.
His musical journey has been quite unorthodox. He has learnt informally from various sources and he has enriched his musical experience through experimentation , composing, studying musicology, teaching, giving lec-dems, preparing and conducting quizzes etc. He has given a few full length vocal concerts in Nashville and the DC area and has more than a dozen compositions to his credit. He was also active in the light music arena in the early ‘90s as a singer, conductor and an instrumentalist.
His association with late Sri. Raju Soundararajan got him involved with the annual SSVT Thyagaraja Aradhana celebrations which he co-ordinated for a few years. He has been inspired and inflenced by his uncle, Padmasri Prof. S.R.Janakiraman, from whom he is currently learning some rare compositions.