India's first comprehensive academy of contemporary music?

Jun 02, 2013, 06:08 IST | Punam Chavan

Come September and many aspiring musicians will get a chance to train in all aspects of music at the True School of Music which opens in Mumbai. Punam Chavan speaks to Ashutosh Pathak, music composer and the co-founder of the school, which claims to be India's first comprehensive academy of contemporary music � hosting the state-of-the-art-infrastructure, recording studios, music library, auditorium for live gigs and consoles for DJs. Excerpts from the interview

What makes True School of Music a comprehensive academy for contemporary music?
We wanted to create an academy that is holistic. There are several schools mushrooming throughout the country, which focus on one aspect of music. We wanted a complete music school, which had all streams — a combined experience where students would learn several things at a time.

The True School of Music will use state-of-the-art equipment

Will electronic music, something that is often shunned by traditionalists, be part of the curriculum too?
Yes, it will be. We believe Disc Jockeying (DJ) is an art. We want our students to study the history and genres of electronic music, such as Trance, House and Techno. Our aim is to give an in-depth understanding of the subject.

The guitar is one of the many instruments that will be taught at the school

How did the idea of starting a contemporary music school strike you?
I studied Western Classical theory from the University of Pennsylvania. But when I started working professionally I realised I had to figure out the technical part on my own. I decided to design what I learnt from my experience in a format which students can absorb easily. We decided to start a contemporary music school, which combines theory with hands-on experience.

Is it necessary for a student to have a base in music to seek admission to the school?
The school is divided into two departments: The foundation and the professional department. Anyone can enroll in the foundation programme. Five Indian and five western instruments will be taught in this programme. These will comprise the harmonium, tabla, sitar, flute, keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, apart from vocals for each. The student will attend four lessons in a month in each instrument. The students who aspire to undertake a professional course need to have few years of professional playing, performance or studio experience. We also have a fast-track programme that can enable a student to proceed from a foundation course to a professional course.

Ashutosh Pathak, True school of Music

You’ve mentioned that the idea is to help young musicians build their career. Will the school arrange campus placements?
We plan to bring ad agencies, film production houses, live music venues and event/ programming companies to hire our students. The best way to get jobs for our students in the future is to get them to work with professionals in the industry. We have an industry patent officer who will help our students connect with the right people.

What is the tenure of this course?
The tenure for the foundation course is six months. The professional course is divided into modules where each module is of three months and a student needs to pursue eight modules to be certified. So if a student opts for a part-time course, the tenure could go upto two and a half years, and if it is a full time course it could finish in nine months.

How is the syllabus or the music curriculum designed? Who has designed it?
The syllabus for the Indian music course is designed by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan. We have also approached Academy of Contemporary Music and reputed DJs in the UK to design specific courses for DJ mixing and sound engineering.

Who will be on the teaching faculty at the institute?
Justin DiCioccio, associate dean of Manhattan School of Music, is the associate dean of our school too. As we do not have teachers teaching contemporary music in our country, we decided to bring the international faculty who teach at these reputed international music schools to our school.

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