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Berklee comes talent-hunting

Bradley Tellis, a 21-year-old guitarist, who will perform at Blue Frog in Lower Parel with his band on Thursday, already seems to have his musical career rolling, reports Aarefa Johari.

mumbai Updated: Feb 11, 2010 01:04 IST
Aarefa Johari

Bradley Tellis, a 21-year-old guitarist, who will perform at Blue Frog in Lower Parel with his band on Thursday, already seems to have his musical career rolling. But despite the offers to perform at gigs across the city, the Arts graduate is yearning for professional music training abroad.

This weekend, when Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music conducts its first ‘World Scholarship Tour’ in Mumbai, Tellis will be among the 100-odd students vying for a seat. With the rising number of applications by Indian students, professional music schools such as Berklee are coming down to India hold auditions.

This the first time that the US college is holding auditions in India and its officials are currently in Delhi.

“We have seen some brilliant students coming to Berklee from India, so we desired to hold auditions here for a long time,” said Jason Camelio, director of international programmes at Berklee. “We had to double the number of auditions and workshops in Delhi this week, because of the terrific response. We hope to see the same in Mumbai.”

Students such as Tellis are quick to grab the opportunity. “I’m looking forward to getting faculty and facilities of the highest level, and also a global perspective of the world of music,” said Tellis, who wants to do a performer’s training course at Berklee. The only Indian institute he has considered was A.R. Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, though classical music is not his forte.

“The system of music education in India is very scattered, and due to a lack of trained teachers, music schools find it difficult to keep up with evolving digital and acoustic technology,” said Satya Hinduja, director of the two-month-old Tabula Rasa Music School in Khar. Hinduja is helping Berklee conduct auditions and workshops in Mumbai.

When Hinduja was studying film scoring at Berklee in 2004, there were only five students from India there. This year, there are at least 20, of which half have won scholarships.

Hinduja believes that foreign universities provide a structured, comprehensive approach to the study of Western classical and contemporary music, which is missing in Indian institutes.

“Many students come to me specifically to get into colleges like Berklee, Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, or London’s Institute of Contemporary music Performance,” said Samantha Edwards, a professional singer and vocals teacher at Ghatkopar’s P.G. Garodia Music Conservatory.

Edwards also attributes the trend to parents warming to the idea of their children taking up music as a full-time career.