Passion is key to a musical career in India

Interview with a music school director

Photo: ImagesBazaar

Nearly everyone loves listening to music, but it is a talented few who create it for everyone’s enjoyment. India has just a handful of well-known musicians and relatively few music professionals. Although there are children who take music lessons, if a child shows genuine passion and wants to pursue a career in music, what are the learning opportunities available to them, and what kind of careers can they look forward to? FamiLife’s Prerna Puri spoke to Jack Thomas, the head of the Performer’s Collective School of Music in Gurgaon and a Director at Rockschool India, an international rock music exam board.

How old is this school?

This school has been running for 13 years.

Do you teach Western or Indian styles of music? What is the split in which style students learn?

We teach all sorts of music, Indian and Western both, but we have larger enrollment in Western classical. The Western music is either rock or contemporary, and contemporary can be classified into jazz, pop and soft rock. Contemporary is the most asked for field.

Is there a further split within the styles (classical vs. jazz or Hindustani vs. Carnatic)?

Indian classical music is not further split  in our school. Whereas as said earlier the Western music can be jazz, pop, soft rock.

What changes have you seen in students’ musical tastes over the years?

The inclination towards Western music has increased dramatically past 3 years

Until what level does music education in your school go?

Well, music has many levels of tests to be cleared . The exams are based on the format used by UK music schools. There are three exams given which make up to 8 grades. After that the student has to proceed for a diploma from a foreign university.

The three exams that are offered in India are RockschoolTrinity College and ABRSM.

After these exams are cleared diplomas have to be attained from a music school abroad.

Are there options for getting a bachelors degree in music in India?

Yes there are music schools in India that teach them music and help them get the bachelors degree along with the normal schooling. The school gives all updates and helps students to give the exams that are lead on the basis of UK schools

Does it make sense for parents in India to invest in a musical education for their children?

India has many money minded people, and parents who want safe career for their children. Music is not a safe career choice. It depends on a person’s passion.  That can lead anyone who is dedicated to an unimaginable height.

What is the socioeconomic profile of your students? Is music education, in general, available to the population or is it limited by class or wealth?

Enrollment of a student in our school is given according the passion of a student to seriously study music. Money is a matter of concern for a middle class sector in India. Indians focus more on pursue of mainstream education for a “safe career,” hence extra expenditure would seem expensive. Music degrees from grade 1-8 are not that expensive but the diploma degrees that need to be taken from abroad are very expensive and Indians usually apply on the basis of scholarship. It is as expensive as any other degree abroad.

Are there students who study music as a profession?

Yes there are students who attain music as a profession but the percentage of students getting into it ranges from 5-10%.

What are the career options for music students?

Students who are enrolled in music schools can either become teachers or take part in bands. Bands are very much “in” these days. There are lots of bands performing in many cafes and pubs. The band culture has given singers a pretty good alternative for singing. Getting a degree can enable them to open up schools and teach music enthusiasts. One can also try to become a professional singer in Bollywood, which is highly competitive, and not the only option. Reality shows should be given a skip for children since they lead to only a marginal development in talent with a lot of pressure at a young age.

What is the approximate percentage of students who take up music professionally?

In India I would say about 5- 10% of the ones enrolled take music as a profession further. Some enter teaching, some join bands to play in pubs and cafes, or they go for higher studies abroad to open schools later.

If a student does want to play music professionally, what is the way to get there?

There are tons of branches to this field but one strong way to get through is getting educated. It makes you a reliable source of music.

Are reality shows a good path to a musical career?

They are not a force for developing talent in the long run. They can definitely give you fame and success for a small period of time, but along with heavy pressure and stress. They don’t let singers go in for more learning. Instead they are trapped in these competitions very early without being at all enriched.

What do you think it takes to become successful as a musician?

Musicians need to be passionate and strong initially to take this unconventional field into consideration.

They should not consider money as a priority but rather look for knowledge and grooming in the field.

India is the 20th biggest music industry in the world, and by one estimate it will be the 10th biggest industry in 2019? Do you think that is an accurate forecast?

I very well think that music industry has grown over the years and there are people who are taking an initiative to learn and execute it. The proportion of people getting enrolled has increased, hence the statement said can be absolutely backed.

What would you advise a child who wanted to pursue a music career?

Keep moving, be passionate about what you want and positively move forward. If you think this is what can make your life and give happiness. Music can surely be worth the chance.

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One thought on “Passion is key to a musical career in India

  • Anonymous

    In my view.. a visible revamp is needed in the music industry + awareness among d commons abt its success stories is required to show non-stagnancy in dis arena…..