Sneak Peek: Inside The True School Of Music

11 September 2013

I. What:

Bold, polished and well-equipped are a few choice adjectives to begin with, if I were to paint a picture of the True School of Music. Bold for its loud (but royal) purple entrance and other sartorial choices inside the premises, polished for its impeccable use of space/design and well-equipped for the state-of-the-art equipment they promised many months ago.

II. Where:

It was more than a little difficult to find, tucked away in the maze-like interiors of Lower Parel's Sun Mill compounds. Since we've already done all the hunting, we'll make it easier for you - just ask anyone who looks somewhat knowledgeable for Hanuman Mandir. You're not far from there.

III. How:

Back to the school however, it's an immediate sanctuary from the city. Spaciously organised, well-curated, eclectic art (read: plenty of Sarnath Banerjee classics amongst other eccentricities) and tastefully framed photography hanging on every corridor makes it the kind creative space Mumbai is usually starved for. It's hard to imagine how they have managed to fit in so much in such limited space but the efficiency in their layout is highly commendable. Skylights in the cafeteria area light up the interiors beautifully and considering this space serve as the fulcrum for the whole school - linking both levels and the music rooms around it. It lends an airy and light feel even before we had a chance to check out the learning spaces.

IV. The Wild City Tour:

Starting off with the drum room which is equipped with ten acoustic drum pads as well as one legitimate kit for the instructor, we moved on to the auditorium which I found particularly well designed. Its seating arrangement is classic - find-your-favourite-floor-spot with a reasonably roomy stage set-up. This is where the institution plans to host all its masterclasses and performances which will be more often than you think. We watched the MSM faculty churn out exquisite jazz renditions for about 20 minutes at the end of the tour so we can vouch for the excellent sound quality as well.

Next up was the DJ room (DJ Uri and Reji's turf), the production room and an incredibly epic studio space where sound engineering students will get to practice their newfound skills, fanned by two top-notch recording studios on each side. Practice rooms that were being used as storage space (the only sign of the school being in its nascent stages), followed. There are seven such rooms which boast plenty of peace and quiet and just enough space for a student and their instrument of choice.

We also got a quick look at the teacher's faculty lounge with its psychedelic couch print and laid-back vibe before we made it upstairs to check out two band rooms alongside the keyboard room. Slight back track - there was also the strings section and Indian Classical music room (which is being mentored by Shubha Mudgal) situated near the teacher's apartments. Since TSM plans to have an international faculty for the pro courses a la the Manhattan School of Music, this is probably destined to be the party pad post classes.

All in all, the only negative connotation that could possibly be spun out of any of these spaces is that the ones on the higher level aren't exactly suited for tall musicians thanks to the low sloping ceilings. It gets points for design authenticity but it may just be failing the utility course.

V. The End:

The tour wrapped up with an incredible jazz-laden performance by five of the international faculty down from MSM. Predictable press conference patterns followed. A word from the founder, Ashutosh Phatak, series of Q&A's and some predictable inside jokes between the brains behind the project. And, we were good to go.

"Write only good things please," Ashu amusingly coaxed the press as we filed out of the auditorium. Most people might not have gotten away with that but he validated it with his pure passion for the project. And considering they've delivered on everything they have promised the school would be good for and more, I'm inclined to adhere to his wishes. Conclusively, TSM is definitely worth checking out for its completely varied approach to education, musically or otherwise, in India. The space and its facilities are testament to this.

It's open for viewing until 15 September when the first term's classes begin. There will be plenty of masterclasses being held until then too.


Words: Mandovi Menon
Image Credit: Parijat Ansaray



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