By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) A music school in Mumbai, building on the 154-year-old legacy of its parent, has touched the lives of over 75,000 students across the country in the last decade – 20,000 of them online during the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic – its co-founder, Tanuja Gomes says.
“By virtue of us being first movers in music education in some way there is a huge amount of experience that we have gathered. Our passion is to ensure we make music learning accessible to as many students as possible, help the talented reach greater heights and enable performance opportunities for learners as eventually like other arts subjects, it needs to be expressed,” Gomes, the co-founder and co-CEO of the Furtados School of Music (FSM), told IANS in an email interview.
Also Furtados, with its 154 year legacy, being an iconic brand in the musical instruments’ retail space, “has good relationships with accomplished music educators, artists and the entire community not only in India but across the world. I have been able to access those relationships and learn a lot”, she added.
FSM is also associate partners with Berklee College of Music, Boston, one of the most respected music colleges in contemporary music. “All these relationships and friends help us support the community and make it viable and aspirational for people who want to make careers in the world of music,” Gomes explained.
In its nine-year journey, FSM has partnered with 143 schools and 15 centres across the country in training over 75,000 students. “Post Covid, with a lot of agility, we have pivoted towards online music education and in the last 8 weeks have taught over 20,000 students online,” she said.
Music learning post lockdown has experienced a huge demand. “I think deep down it’s been part of the dreams for many, either learning themselves or have their kids learn an instrument as there are tremendous benefits of music learning. We have witnessed maximum
traction in vocals learning, keyboard and guitar. Recently we partnered with a school in Delhi and about 150 kids are learning on virtual piano and we are amazed with the gratification and enthusiasm of these kids,” Gomes said.
The school offers training in voice, piano, keyboard, guitar, drums and percussion instruments.
“For learning an instrument, having an instrument is extremely important. However, in the absence of one, we have tried virtual instruments, largely piano/keyboard. Once the student has the basics clear and understands the chords and placements, virtual instruments can help with practice in absence of the physical instrument.
“That being said, these instruments cannot replace playing on an actual instrument because the pressure and speed on the keys help in bringing alive the emotion of the song,” Gomes said.
Expanding on the therapeutic value of music, she said listening to any of your favourite pieces will usually resonate with the emotion one is feeling at that time. “All major notes induce happy emotions, whereas minor notes induce sad emotions. So a particular song has the capacity to induce either depending on the notes it’s being played in.”
“It has been tested that Dopamine is released in response to music. This is the same chemical that is also released when we are in love. Making us feel good. There is significant data and conclusive studies that says that humans obtain pleasure from music, an abstract reward.
“At the same time music playing also helps immensely. It’s one of those activities where all our H’s work together – the hand that moves on the keys, the head that reads the notes and heart that enjoys the emotion of playing the piece, thereby joining the wires of right and left together,” Gomes elaborated.
And, as the next step, the company is also pivoting towards online arts education with the launch of its FSM Buddy platform.
“This will enable learners to avail live classes online with some of the best arts educators in our country and learn from the comforts of their home. These are not video lessons but live teachers who will guide and teach. Our offering will be across various categories, Music, Speech and Drama, Arts, Life skills. We are confident these will hugely benefit our young learners especially in the current
times,” Gomes concluded.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at [email protected])