A constant complaint I hear from many young artists in the scene is that it’s near impossible in India today to make a career, or sustain a livelihood, performing and recording music. Sure, there are a handful of bands whose day jo...
A constant complaint I hear from many young artists in the scene is that it’s near impossible in India today to make a career, or sustain a livelihood, performing and recording music. Sure, there are a handful of bands whose day jobs are “just” touring and releasing albums and EPs, but they’re the exceptions to the trend. For a majority of musicians in the independent music scene today, keeping a regular day job is essential for them to indulge in their musical pursuits. A variety of now-cliched reasons exist for this status quo to have persisted for all these years, but one of the key factors has been the lack of professional training in music. When a young musician decides to expand his/her musical horizons and really study music, only a limited number of options exist that make any sense at all in terms of a worthwhile return on investment (fees mainly). If you’ve got money, you’re aiming for Berklee or Musicians Institute to give you that bump in career prospects or just a better understanding of contemporary music and your instrument of choice. But for those who can’t shell out the big bucks, there are precious few options. Until now, institues like the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, the Global Music Institute (who recently added the Berklee curriculum to their programmes) and the I Love Music Academy have tried to fill the latent demand for professional training in music in the country. Today, a new name was added to that list, and one that aims to give young musicians a “comprehensive” learning base from which “lucrative careers in music” would hopefully open up.
The True School of Music, housed in a 15,000 square foot facility at the Sunmill compound in Lower Parel, is the brainchild of blueFROG co-founder Ashutosh Phatak (a musician himself) and his FROG cohort Nitin Chandy (a sound engineer, and the Chief Technical Officer of the sullen amphibian). The state-of-the-art facility will host special training rooms for guitars and bass, drums, keyboards and vocals, alongside a recording studio, a library and an auditorium for live gigs. TSM will offer professional and “foundation” courses, the former aimed at musicians looking to master particular instruments, DJing and sound engineering, and the latter aimed at casual music fans looking to indulge in some formal music training (a monthly membership of about Rs 5,000 a month will give you foundation training and access to the facilities). The curriculum is based on the Trinity College 8-grade Rock & Pop programme, and specially created courses with inputs from the likes of the Manhattan School of Music and the Academy of Contemporary Music (in the UK). The courses are designed, as was repeated several times at today’s press conference, to give budding musicians the opportunity to pursue music full-time, with Phatak and Co leveraging their industry contacts to give students as much industry exposure and as many real-world projects as possible. The DJ courses will be helmed by DJs Uri and Reji, who have created an in-depth curriculum for young DJs. The plan is to keep the teacher-student ratio about 1:10, to ensure a more personal learning experience.
The DJ course at TSM has eight modules developed by DJ Uri (left) and DJ Reji (right).
It is an ambitious initiative, no doubt, but going by what we were shown at today’s press con, there’s a lot of India-specific thinking that has gone into kickstarting this institute. When I asked why students interested in pursuing musical educations should pick TSM over say a more established names like SAM, Phatak said that the curriculum at the institute was a lot more structured, with fixed modules that interested students could pursue either full-time, or part-time if they have a day job. Justin DiCioccio, Associate Dean at MSM, chipped in saying that the potential for there to be an “exchange program” of sorts with the Manhattan