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Interviews |  06 Feb 2018 18:20 |  By Namrata Kale

We believe in the power of music to transcend cultural barriers: GMI Co-Founder Aditya Balani

MUMBAI: Global Music Institute, first music college in India is all set to join the Berklee Global Partners (BGP).They are on a mission to bring a distinctive and modern approach to music education. Also, GMI believes in the power of music to surpass linguistic, economic, and intellectual barriers and envision a local-to-global music community.

Music education at GMI is viewed as holistic learning experience that is important at every stage of a person’s life and development. To get an in-depth information about the institute(GMI) we connected with Global Music Institute co-founder and  director Aditya Balani. Excerpts.

How was GMI formed?

The value of good music education became almost obvious to both, my brother Tarun (co-founder) and myself ironically by the lack of it. We really wanted to learn our respective instruments well but couldn’t find good teachers to guide us and had to rely on self-learning. When we got an opportunity to study music formally in the US from Berklee College of Music, we absorbed as much as we could to make the best of it. Both of us started teaching quite early on in our careers and this continued when we came home during semester breaks. Overtime, our student body kept growing organically.

After graduating, we setup a small space to teach more formally. Our first programme was a month-long intensive programme with an international faculty. Though it was a new concept, we challenged the music education model at the time, a lot of young musicians found value in it. The success of that 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.

GMI is a mission of bringing a distinctive modern approach to music. If you could elaborate?

We put a lot of focus on music technology in our program to prepare our students for the current demands of the industry. A functional knowledge of recording and DAW’s is quite an essential skill for anyone looking to work in the music field today. GMI also incorporates interdisciplinary instrumental studies and courses on Hindustani music. GMI’s Arts and Music courses are designed to enable students to engage with other art forms also subjects like design, film, photography, musicology, ethnomusicology and inter-cultural studies.

GMI’s program also focuses on music business and career development. Directed study, seminars and master classes with visiting artists are designed for students to transition smoothly into exploring and accessing work opportunities in their chosen fields. GMI has also partnered with many cultural centers, music venues and clubs to provide professional performance opportunities designed to integrate students into a thriving live music circuit and performing arts community.

What are the different music genres explored at GMI?

We highly encourage our students to be well versed in many musical styles and broaden their perspective as much as possible. Many of our students and alumni are singer-songwriters or play in blues, pop, electronic, rock, and fusion outfits. Our courses dwell into world music, electronic music, western classical, Indian classical and folk music as well. Our Arts and Music courses are designed to enable to students to engage with other art forms and subjects like design, film, photography, musicology, ethnomusicology and inter-cultural studies.

How does GMI motivate its students?

At GMI we work to promote cross-cultural musical dialogue and exchange, especially between contemporary and more traditional and folkloric styles of music through its diverse local, national and international faculty. We believe in the power of music to transcend cultural barriers.

We encourage our students to develop a strong artistic identity and enable them to be a versatile performing musician. Through the semesters and programmes, students get many performance opportunities available on campus. New Delhi has a number of cultural centers, music venues and clubs that collaborate with students and faculty from GMI, providing unparalleled professional performance opportunities designed to integrate students into a thriving live music circuit and performing arts community.

Is it that contemporary music has overlapped traditional music?

There has been a gradual increase in the number of young musicians wanting to make a career in contemporary music but I feel that there is still a lot of interest in traditional music form as well. There’s a huge community throughout India that is dedicated to classical and folk music.

Through the internet young musicians are exposed to a whole range of genres. This has definitely led to the diversification of musical tastes. However, I wouldn’t say that contemporary music has overlapped other traditional music systems. Especially in India where our musical traditions are so deeply rooted and that’s why even though many musicians embrace more contemporary forms of music, most do find a way to fuse those with some form of Indian music.