Music studies have gained acceptance in India over the last couple of years. There is an increasing approval on the part of parents and the society at large for a career in this field and many students are opting for music as a full-time profession. Identifying this trend Tarun and Aditya Balani, Founded Global Music Institute, India’s leading music college aiming at a holistic learning experience and have a contemporary focus where a variety of musical styles including jazz, pop, rock, and blues are explored.
In an elaborate interview with Baishali Mukherjee, Aditya Balani founder Founded Global Music Institute shares details about the uniqueness of the programs and curricula offered at the college.
Idea behind launching the institute
The value of good music education became almost obvious to Tarun (co-founder) and Aditya Balani, Founder & Director of Global Music Institute, ironically by the lack of it. In the summer of 2010, Balani completed a BMus degree from Berklee after finishing a BA programme from Delhi University. Once back, the brothers Tarun and Aditya started teaching music actively in Delhi. As the lessons progressed, they realized that they could look at setting up a more fully established and formal teaching programme.
Apart from this, India does not have many qualified and trained teachers for contemporary music. The duo wanted to create a space for this, bring in international faculty, and provide a holistic learning experience. This is how GMI took shape. Both the brothers started teaching quite early on in our careers and this continued when they came home during semester breaks from Berklee. Over time, the student body kept growing organically. After graduating, the duo set-up a small space to teach more formally.
“About 50% to 60% of students who enroll with GMI are those who have finished high school. We are happy to be the agents of change and contribute to it by helping students further their interest. Parents are also inquisitive to know more about the courses we offer, and the approach taken by us to tutor students,” shared Aditya Balani.
The concept behind GMI is very simple. It aims to create a space for young artistes and musicians to have access to high-quality music education.Our first attempt was a month-long intensive performance programme with international faculty. Though it was a very new concept, which challenged the music education model at the time, a lot of young musicians found value in it. The success of that help spread and soon we moved to a semester-based system. This is how the seeds for GMI were sown.
GMI very soon became a hub for local musicians to learn, interact and perform. While there was a lot of interest in learning guitar, drums, voice and piano with GMI’s international faculty students were able to study instruments like the double bass, trumpet and saxophone which are normally quite inaccessible. This led to a growing community welcoming all genres of music,not only the more popular ones but also more obscure and experimental. Developing and supporting an artist community has been a strong focus for the founders since the very beginning and GMI is fast becoming a platform for artistic expression.
Eligibility criteria admission
To take admission at GMI, candidates must fill in the application form available on the website and mail it to the institute. Those applying for the full-time programmes must be at least 16 years of age on commencement of studies. All applicants must understand basic English in order to communicate with the international faculty.
To enroll at GMI, one must register as a student and pay the tuition fee as per the tuition plan. Those who want hostel facilities must register for Student Housing. The age group of students is 16 upward for all the full time programs and 14 upwards for part time programs.
GMI currently has around 100 students per year across various intakes and programmes. The institute has over the years invited faculty from North and South America, Europe and Asia to the institute for teaching. Our current faculty includes Ester Wiesnerova (Slovakia ) for voice, Alex Correa(Brazil) for Piano, Juancristobal Aliaga (Chile) for Guitar, Tarun Balani (India) for Drums, Aditya Balani (India) for Music Theory, Shiv Ahuja (India) for Arts Studies, Jay Pei (India) for Music Production, Ujwal Nagar (India) for Hindustani Studies.
“We also invite Indian musicians of international repute to teach or conduct sessions workshops,master class. Some classic examples are Suhail Yusuf Khan (virtuoso Sarangi player),Vishal Nagar (noted table player), Sentirenla Lucia (vocalist), who have been part of the teaching faculty at GMI. Such rich exposure not onlyenables students to learn and understand the nuances of music but also allows enough room for creativity and experimentation,” shared Aditya.
Apart from this, faculty members from the prestigious Berklee College of Music USA visited the college to undertake workshops recently. The institute also conducts master classes regularly with popular bands like Khamira EYM Trio from France & Blessing Chimanga from Zimbabwe, Shubh Saran from New York to name a few.
Aim of the institute
Music education at GMI is viewed as holistic learning experience that is important at every stage of a person’s life and development. The founders believe in developing all-rounded students with a deep awareness and understanding of musical diversity. “The Institute also works to create a body of knowledge through evidence that can sensitively represent the many positive effects of musical education and learning as comprehensively as possible. Given the fact that we are also the first music college in India to join the Berklee Global Partners, GMI provides its students with immense exposure to international styles and music systems,” notified Aditya.
The best part about the courses offered at GMI is the flexibility to choose according to one’s preferences and schedule. “However, this does not affect the quality of the lessons imparted in any manner,” he warned. “We believe in the power of music to transcend linguistic, economic, cultural and intellectual barriers and envision a local-to-global music community in which all people, genres, cultures, instruments and sounds are in a state of dynamic collaboration and learning,” ehthused the young-preneur.
GMI has a semester-based system and runs 3 semesters: Spring (Jan-Apr); Summer(May-Aug); and Fall (Sep-Dec). Fresh enrollments open at the beginning of every semester. Thus, a student has the option to begin their studies at GMI at any of the three semesters. Students also have the option to enroll either in a full-time programme or a part-time programme. Within a full-time programme, students can enrol in either a 1-year certificate, 2-year diploma, or a 3-year graduate diploma. One year of studies is equivalent to completing 2 semesters. After a 1-year programme, students have the option of extending their studies into a 2-year diploma and further to a 3-year graduate diploma.
The GMI Weekend Performance Program (WPP) is geared towards musicians whose schedules may not allow them to enroll in a full-time certificate/diploma program. This is a great opportunity to engage and interact with a community of musicians from across the globe. This 10-week program is run over the weekend wherein students get three hours of learning in the form of private instruction in their chosen performance major(piano, voice, guitar, drums, bass), performance lab and music theory. Apart from this, the Music Production Program (MPP) course helps students start making music with Ableton Live 9, an industry standard and a powerful Digital Audio Workstation. Spread over 12 weeks and offered in two levels (basic and advanced), students learn how to organize their musical ideas, increase workflow, and use real-world techniques to polish their final productions. The course comes with a full retail license of Ableton Live Suite 9 with Max for Live.
Career opportunities/prospects for students
GMI has partnerships with various cultural centers, music venues, and performing centers with the aim of providing professional performance opportunities. These are designed to integrate students into a thriving live music circuit and performing arts community.Therefore, once a student graduates from the institute, they get ample opportunities to establish themselves in the music circuit – be it as solo performers or as part of a group.
GMI alumni have already made a mark in the music industry. Some excellent examples include Tarana Marwah and Kamakshi Khanna who play in festivals and shows pan India. Abhishek Sekhri has set up a studio and is focusing on producing artists. GMI graduate Aman Sagar has received a full scholarship to study at Berklee. Another example is Dhruv Goel who after studying at GMI transferred to Berklee and is now working with Hans Zimmer in LA.
Strong partnerships are underway with leading institutes from Ireland, UK, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Korea to develop a more global awareness of music through opportunities for exchange and collaboration between institutions.
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