Film scoring chair Dan Carlin sends his next-to-last dispatch from Berklee’s big trip to India.
Greetings from Chennai, India,
Instead of spending Sunday with our Valentines in and around Boston, my colleagues and I presented four clinics and a panel to interested musicians and students at the Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai (or, Bombay, as most of the natives call it). We explored aspects of ear training, improvisation, modal patterns, film scoring, and music education. It was a long and rewarding day, and those in attendance were welcoming, receptive, and inquisitive.
On Monday, we started auditioning students interested in attending—and earning scholarships for—either the Five-Week summer program or the full, four-year degree program. As in Delhi, most of the Mumbai students auditioned either as singers or guitarists; and they displayed quite a range of talent. Some, unfortunately, showed much more enthusiasm than ability; but that really isn’t their fault. As much as the U.S. is hurting for music programs in elementary and secondary schools, things are worse in India. There seems to be ample opportunity for children to join choirs—either religious or educational; but, unless they form their own bands, aspiring young musicians have little opportunity to study privately or play in ensembles. We also met students who traveled to the audition from towns in which there are no music teachers in residence.
Nevertheless, we saw some students who have overcome such music-education deficiencies and have managed to develop truly impressive skills. We heard some who never before had been asked to improvise, yet they caught on immediately to the concept, creating wonderfully melodic phrases to the chord patterns we played them. (I use the royal “we” here because Michael Farquharson and I are working as a team, but it is he—not I—who vamps at the piano while these students play along. My contribution is pretty much limited to playing the MacBook Pro’s “Word” program in order to write evaluations and comments regarding the students’ skills and potential.)
The plan for Tuesday changed suddenly late Monday night (as in 11:30 p.m., our time). Scheduled to audition all day with Michael, I instead will be relieved at lunchtime by Greg Badolato so that I can fly to Chennai (Madras). There I will meet with Oscar/Grammy winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) along with the provost of Dr. Rahman’s recently created conservatory.
So, if you’re still interested, please stay tuned.
Best wishes to you all,
Read previous posts from India: