| 30 Mar 2023
True School of Music plans to add one more centre in the next year

MUMBAI: Ashutosh Pathak, fondly known as Ashu, has come a long way since composing for television and commercials. From playing a showcase at SXSW (South by South West) in Texas in 2009, he is one of the founding members of blueFROG, and has created his own music academy – True School of Music (TSM). Pathak spoke to about this journey of his and what the future holds for True School of Music.


Tell us about your journey from establishing blueFROG to creating a music school?

blueFROG gave me insight into the live music scene and also into the media side of making music. But we realised that even though the music industry is growing, there were not enough qualified professionals in the business.

About 2 and half years ago, my friend and TSM co-founder, Nitin Chandy and I decided to start a music school. That is because working professionals have learnt music on their own and have done so on the job. Also, it is economical for most people to seek education at schools like Berklee College of Music.

We wanted to create an international facility here, so that people would not have to go outside the country. We realised that the culture of western contemporary education did not really exist on a professional level here. To remedy that, we wanted international teachers who had been a part of the entire ethos to come in and teach. The students here do real world projects, and by the time they graduate, they have already done a lot of work and know a lot of people in the business. TSM is kind of a stepping stone in the music industry, where you get knowledge and experience.

Which other academies around the world is TSM associated with?

When we decided to form the school, we went around the world looking for partners. One of the first schools that we partnered with was the Manhattan School of Music. It was a faculty tie-up; we were looking for teachers. We thought the graduates from this school would be perfect for coming to TSM to teach. It started with that, and now, through our associations, we are employing people from different schools.

We are now associated schools like the British & Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) and a couple Dutch schools in Netherlands like Utrecht School of the Arts and Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Our associations keep growing. So many people are interested in coming to India to teach, and that is a great exchange for us. Hopefully, we will also start sending our teachers to other schools in the future.

We are also in the midst of finalising associations with few Indian music institutions. We are working on an Indian classical music education programme right now and will soon announce more details about it. We are also associated with the music celebrities over here – the big guns. They come and teach here and conduct workshops and the students get to meet them. That is because of our very strong tie with the industry.

Tell us about the original curriculum at TSM?

At TSM, we follow our own curriculum and our own format, because it is custom designed and built for the working professionals in India. After having considered many music education examination boards like Trinity Guildhall, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and others, we decided to create our own curriculum with our own standards. That is because our primary focus is the Indian music industry.

What has been the response for TSM since it started?

True School of Music is very young and we have learned a lot since its inception. We have understood how an Indian student thinks. Keeping that mind, we are constantly evolving our curriculum. With every evolution of the curriculum, we have seen added interest. We have people from all walks of life and all over the city, coming here.

What is in store for TSM in the future?

Right now, we are looking at starting an online product. It is quite revolutionary and is something that has not been seen before. We are taking education to another level, where it is almost ‘gamified’. I think that is going to be really interesting when we start it next year. It is an online education platform.

We have devised an interesting learning concept, where we have gamified our entire curriculum. So, if you want to learn to play the guitar, or learn to form your own band or set up your own night club, you can learn to do this through virtual media. And, it will be accessible to anyone and everyone. In this online platform, we have 20-minute lessons, which allow you to practise for as long as you may like, and you can earn rewards. I believe that this will revolutionise how people learn, we are very excited about that.

Do you have any expansion plans for TSM?

We are going to start expansion with the online school, which will reach out to a lot of people. We are also looking at centres in North Bombay, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore; actually in any place where there is a lot of interest and is a college town with a favourable number of music enthusiastic youth. We understand the market better now. The plan is to start at least one new TSM in the next one year, and then take it from there. There has also been tremendous interest from other countries, which is exciting, but, we want to take one step at a time.