Music was a constant from the formative years of my life, right from listening to Carnatic music as an infant (quoting my parents here) to varied genres from pop, jazz now in my 20s. Learning and practicing Carnatic music for over a decade only made my parents realize that music was something that came naturally to me and practicing the art would make me a better musician. This realization hit me too, thankfully, not very late.

Science and mathematics were subjects, I was certain, I did not want to have in my kitty in college, and my parents were kind enough not to force them on me. My father himself was keen to send me to London to pursue a degree in music business for my undergraduate education, but I decided to stall it then for later.

While in the final year of my undergraduate education in Electronic Media in Chennai, it was time to think of a Masters degree to follow with. Music business was always in my mind, and I knew now was the time to think about it. So music it is, I told myself. It also felt like there was no other field I could have aced better.

We started shortlisting colleges that offered Music Business that I was interested in, right from NYU Steinhardt to Berklee College of Music.

Preparing the requirements, SOPs, portfolio of work, giving exams like the IELTS etc. was a task on its own, which took a lot of time but was fun in its own way.

I had heard a lot about Berklee from friends who had attended the program and the institution as it is. Just listening to experiences narrated by my friends would bring a smile to my face. It just made me like the thought of Berklee even more and the aspiration to get in was high. I decided to apply for the MA in Global Entertainment and Music Business program at Berklee Valencia.

Then came the day scheduled for a Skype interview with a professor from Berklee. I can still remember that day vividly. An hour-long video chat with Mr. Alexandre Perrin, professor at Berklee (Alex as we call him) at 12am IST was the final step to be admitted into the program.

The interview ranged from questions about the Indian music market, to the projects I would like to work on if I get admitted to an impromptu singing session. Receiving the letter of acceptance was the happiest feeling ever I’d experienced. What made it sweeter was that I was a step closer to actually visiting the institution I had grown to admire. And I will get to learn from the best of the best on and off campus!

Setting foot on Campus in Valencia, Spain was an amazing feeling. We had a guided tour of the intimate building and it was amazing to see that every classroom – whether used to learn music or not, had a piano in there. The environment as such was different, something which I did not find in India. The global connect with people, both students and faculty was so enriching, as we learn so much not just musically but also about various cultures and traditions. Spain as such is so culturally diverse and having that in Berklee is worth experiencing.

I was one among the youngest in the class, but that didn’t seem to be an issue at all, as all are equal and we constantly learn from one another through various interactions, assignments, projects and much more. Few months into the program also opened performance opportunities, and it was heartening to see that people out there appreciated Indian music a lot.

Two years at Berklee has taught me so much in life, leave alone music. It has helped me become a more confident and responsible person, a better communicator and also a good listener. I came out feeling different and happy to have gained so much knowledge and network in the industry and also a family to have for life.

Sahana Kumar

This is Sahana Kumar.

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April 15, 2019
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