Steer clear of the stupid name games, future predictions, and the ‘10 reasons for every goddamn thing on Earth’ articles, Facebook can be a wonderful thing sometimes. It can connect you to people you knew some ten years ago, whom you never thought you’d talk to again, ever. Through Facebook, you can even know what’s going on in their lives, even though they are usually exaggerated depictions of their happy times.
A few days ago, I got a prompt from Facebook asking me to like the official page for “Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music”. Many of my friends and colleagues had already liked it, and the university is the best place to learn music according to most of my fellow musicians. So I hit that famous like button, and then visited the page. I visited their website to learn more about them. They had a number of courses on offer, right from a diploma in a musical instrument to a degree in music production. And then, I clicked on their fee-structure page. The tuition fee, the hostel fee, the food fee, and the maintenance fee together summed up to Rs 16.4 lacs per annum. Add all the other expenses that one might have to bear while staying in the exterior of Chennai for two years and that amount goes up to something an IIM might ask you to pay for an MBA. Related searches on Facebook showed the official page for KM Music Conservatory, the university run by the Music Maestro A R Rahman himself. The tuition fees alone, for the university was Rs 5 lacs per annum. Needless to say, I didn’t read any further.
I also checked out a few good music schools in Delhi and even went to meet the teachers to inquire about their courses face-to-face. What I gathered left me depressed. They charge not less than 3000 rupees a month for forty-minute once-a-week classes. Most of the people who go to these classes are either rich kids or unemployed women who have way too much time and money to burn. In short, the clientele of these music classes are people who have are not pressed for money.
I am a full-time musician. I am not looking for a place to pursue a hobby, or to keep myself busy. There is a big reason for when I look for a place to learn music professionally, and I don’t have unlimited time at my disposal. As it turned out, there was no place convenient for me to learn music. A lot of fellow artistes I know have gotten frustrated and are turning towards full-time jobs in other industries in order to achieve financial independence. And yet, these music schools are growing, both in size and in number. The queues of prospective students waiting to enroll in these schools keep growing. I wonder how they say we’re a poor nation.
I wish there were an exam called AIMAE (All India Music Aptitude Examination), based on the results of which these music universities would offer you various courses at normal middle-class fees. And when you were in your final year, big people in the industry like A R Rahman, Amit Trivedi, Vishal-Shekhar, etc would hire you as assistant producers, or sound engineers, or instrumentalists, or for any other special role they may have, at a monthly salary starting of, say, 25-30K. And then we’d go on to make our own way, as we’d then be struggling only for success, not for financial independence.
Featured image Credits: http://www.thebigmusicproject.co.uk/moneyonmymind/