Music Education Is Set To Become A Major Part Of The Curriculum At Delhi High Schools

Music Education Is Set To Become A Major Part Of The Curriculum At Delhi High Schools
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As far back as the pages of history span, music has been an integral part of Indian culture. If we go back to the days of the princely courts who often offered patronage to musicians, we can see how classical Indian music was strictly perceived and upheld to the realms of the sacred. In fact, music has always been indispensable when we think about the social-religious climate of India. Within the Indian context, the gurukuls and madrasas functioned as spaces that imparted education in music. In recent times though, formal educational spaces have relegated music to a rather co-curricular sphere or to one of those classes that are a part of soft skills rather than a comprehensive subject that is officially recognised.

In a new and rather significant move for students and a historic move for education, the Delhi Government’s Education Department has decided to offer a major in Hindustani Classical Vocals/Instruments and in Western Vocals/Instruments at the high school level. While the curriculum for the same is still being devised and is still in the planning stage, this is a landmark change in the educational system of the country and puts us on a par with other countries where a major in music at the high school level is already a possibility.

In the groundbreaking project called Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Schools of Specialized Excellence (SoSE), the choice based schools will allow class 9 to 12 to specialize or major in chosen fields within STEM, Humanities, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Armed Forces and High-end 21st Century Skills (Software Development, Entrepreneurship etc). Affiliated to the Delhi Board of Secondary Education (DBSE) and set up by the Delhi Government in partnership with International Baccalaureate, this landmark move will allow students to utilize their prime study years to pursue their streams of interest and aptitude full time.

“This is a really significant step for us because education reflects what a culture considers important,” says Mumbai-based Jazz and Blues musician Vasundhara Vee, who has been entrusted by the Delhi Government to design the curriculum for western vocals for classes 9th to 12th. Global Music Institute, an institute that aims at bringing a distinct and modern approach to music education in India is the knowledge partner for the project and is helping design the curriculum as well as in building the structure for the entire spectrum of courses under the Music and Visual Arts Domain.

To understand what exactly the course will entail and what it means for the students and the future of music in India, we had a conversation with Vasundhara Vee.

While music has been an integral part of Indian culture there has been no recognition of it in formal education spaces. With the Delhi Government’s move to incorporate a major in music at high school level, what do you think it means for students as well as for the future of music?

This is the biggest game-changer for education. Music is culture –- and Education reveals what a culture considers important. I’m proud that the Delhi Government acknowledges the importance of Performing and Visual Arts as a legitimate field of study just the way many countries across the world have done.

Today more than ever, the line between niche and mainstream work is severely blurred. Science and Commerce aren’t the only sure shots anymore. Music is culture but music is also a massive industry. So are Design and Film. And if primary education is aimed at creating work prospects for young adults then this is literally the best way to give them their strongest chance!

Our standards are going to go up. Access to proper and in-depth education is being granted to all those who want it. This access alone is incredibly important and empowering. Music education is not only reserved for the privileged who might have time and resources to go to institutes to study after school. There is a ready and growing industry that is waiting for well-trained talent not just here but abroad as well. This is a perfect time. Western and Hindustani Classical music are both being offered as separate and equivalent streams.

You are an integral part of designing the curriculum for this, what can we expect to see in the coursework?

I am writing the Western Vocals Curriculum for Class 9 to Class 12 and will be training teachers as well. Since vocals are now a main subject, there will be much more emphasis and detail per class than was ever made possible in the Extra-Curricular framework. You can exVocal Physiology, Vocology, Sight Singing, Rhythmic and Songwriting expertise, Music History plus the deep application of vocal concepts into actual singing. It is going to be full-time and wholesome study.

I have to work as a tight unit with Aditya Balani (Co-Founder of GMI). Everything I include for Voice has to be in proper sync with the Music Theory and Fundamentals studies which are common to all music students. We need to pace it in a way that the singers, guitar players, pianists etc grow at a healthy and uniform rate so as to be able to perform at the correct level. The testing and examination framework has to be robust. The resources have to be detailed but also inspiring. It is a massive job for all of us and is also infinitely satisfying.

My aim is for the western voice graduates to be good enough to work as vocal professionals internationally. They will have the Vocal and Theoretical Skills to go forward as studio singers, live singers, trained songwriters and even independent musicians. Most of all, they will all be able to pursue higher studies in music anywhere on the globe and further their career prospects.

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