The True School of Music to be launched in Mumbai, with faculty from
The Manhattan School of Music, NYC.

India’s first, comprehensive institute of contemporary music set to open up lucrative careers in music

MUMBAI, 22 May, 2013: Come September, The True School of Music, will open its doors to professional and budding musicians at Sunmill Compound, Lower Parel, Mumbai for rigorous vocational training programs in all aspects of contemporary music. Spread over 15,000 square feet, India’s first comprehensive academy of contemporary music will host state-of-the-art infrastructure, recording studios, a comprehensive music library, auditorium for live gigs and consoles for DJs, in addition to resident faculty from The Manhattan School of Music, New York City, professional instrument courses authored by leading music educators in the USA and sound engineering and music production courses developed by ACM, UK.

The True School of Music is the brainchild of Ashutosh Phatak (Ashu), a renowned music composer himself, and Nitin Chandy, a Sound Engineer by profession, whose idea, according to Ashu, has been “simmering within my sub-conscience for at least 15 years.” Recalling his initial years as a career musician, Ashu says, “Learning on the job was the only way to gain knowledge and techniques for a professional career in music in India. But, you had to already be good enough to get commissioned. So only a select few who could balance this Catch 22 situation managed to get ahead and have successful careers.”

“It’s shocking to me that there is YET no institute that provides a technically firm grounding for career oriented musicians. With the intense growth of live music scene (post Blue Frog) and a steady rise in the Advertising and Film industries, job opportunities are increasing each day. As musicians who will grab such opportunities in a burgeoning industry, there is even greater need to have a foundation of education to add longevity and an international level of skills for this segment.” he adds.

“Today those talented musicians and music ‘hopefuls’ who are serious about making a career out of their passion, go to the US to study at Berklee College of Music, Boston, US, MI (Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music, Hollywood, California, US) or Manhattan School of Music, New York City, US or to the UK to ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music). For a large pool of people, this is not an option because they simply can’t afford it. We wanted to give them a global music education in their own country, at a fraction of the cost.” says Nitin Chandy.

Ashu and Nitin first focused on finding the support to kick-start this ambitious project. Growth capital investors, Zodius Capital, picked up on the vision and stepped right in. “We were looking at supporting education for ‘new age’ professions in this country. Music was high on our horizon and seemed like a natural fit.” says Neeraj Bhargava, Senior Managing Director & CEO, Zodius Capital Advisors. Added Anuraag Srivastava, Managing Director of Zodius Capital Advisors, “The True School value proposition is sound. As we looked at growing career opportunities emerging from the rapid growth in live performances and rising production of music for a diverse range of communications including advertising, gaming, non-Bollywood entertainment, etc., we were convinced True School not only allows students to follow their passion but also build a real career as a music industry professional.”

The next big challenge was the course curriculum. “We approached some of the best names in the world of contemporary music to design the course and curriculum, especially for The True School.” says Ashu. “Once I explained our concept to David Liebman, a multi-award winning American saxophonist and flautist, and ex Miles Davis band member, he not only endorsed the idea, he was excited enough to seal the alliance with The Manhattan School of Music where he is currently the Artist-in-residence.”

“What excited us at MSM was Ashu’s dream and his dogged pursuit to create a world class contemporary music institute in India. We are developing a really innovative concept, one that is unparalleled and unheard of anywhere in the world.” says Justin DiCioccio, Associate Dean, MSM, who has flown in especially for this launch. “To increase the synergy,” says Ashu, “we then approached Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan to design the Indian music course from a contemporary and international PoV. The faculty from MSM, NYC who will visit The True School of Music can themselves undergo a course in Indian music designed by Shubha and Aneesh.”

TSM has also approached Academy of Contemporary Music and reputed DJs in the UK to design specific courses for different genres, such as DJ mixing and sound engineering. “The unique thing about The True School of Music,” explains Nitin Chandy, “is that we’re creating our own syllabi, which incorporates the best practices from international music and sound pedagogy, but at the same time, relates it to the Indian scenario. We’ll get the best instructors and teachers, both locally and from around the world, to teach our students. We will offer state-of-the-art equipment that will be constantly upgraded. We’re thus opening doors for our students, by making it part of their course to work on projects with industry bigwigs and future employers.” Adds Ashu, “An important requirement in the course is to introduce an ensemble based education. Each student will be expected to form a band within the first few weeks of starting classes. This will help them learn individually as well as learn how to perform in a band situation.”

True School will have 2 primary departments – Professional: 5 music instruments, Music Production including composition, DJ and Live Sound Engineering. The Foundation Program: 5 western instruments (keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and vocals) and 5 Indian instruments (harmonium, tabla, sitar, flute and vocals). This is based on the Trinity College 8-grade Rock & Pop curriculum, preceded by an initial course and graded exams. “Even amateurs will have to form a band and perform live at our auditorium before we let them loose into the outside world,” insists Ashu, underpinning the thread of ensemble based education running seamlessly through the curriculum.
The facility will contain separate classrooms for theory and practical; individual customized workstations will be provided for DJ and Music Production students. Additionally, the school will have a dedicated Drum and Piano room for students. They will also have small individual practice rooms for one-on-one sessions with their instructors.

There will be an Outreach Program that will target schools who want to add music to their extra-curricular activities. This will later be offered to corporates interested in providing music lessons as a perquisite to their employees.

It is the professional program that will truly be the game-changer. True School’s faculty will include international teachers as well as many industry experts from India who are already steeped in the business of music. Once students join the professional program, they will intern on live projects from these music composers, producers and directors who are part of the faculty. The natural progression will be professional assignments coming their way as soon as they get a Certification from The True School of Music.

Indeed, while distribution of music has been going through epochal changes due to technology, production of music has been growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by the growth in digital music, internet, mobile music and gaming. The Live Music scene, for both international and domestic bands, has been thriving for the past few years. This has paved the way for a host of indie pop and folk bands, as well as the need for quality technicians to support this growth.

According to an IMARC report, the total Indian music market, including Bollywood music is expected to grow from Rs.1200 crore in 2011 to Rs.2200 crore in 2016 with CAGR of 12%. Corroborating this trend, a recent FICCI-KPMG report, also states that TV advertising industry is slated to grow at 12.3% CAGR to touch Rs.20,700 crore by 2016. The same report pegs the growth of radio advertising market at 17% CAGR to touch Rs.2,560 crore by 2016. The internet advertising market is estimated to grow at 27% CAGR to touch Rs.4.760 crore by 2016. The mobile advertising market is also pegged to grow at 35% CAGR to touch Rs.450 crore by 2016. In all the above avenues, music content plays a crucial role that will only expand the size of the music industry.

The demand for quality professional musicians will have to shore up to cater to this expansion. This is the ‘raison’ d’etre’ for The True school of Music to exist, according to its founders. The True School of Music will soon open its doors to musically inclined students for great and enriching careers in music.

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