Ever thought of a career in music?

There has been a visible shift in the past few years with more students opting to pursue degree programmes in unconventional or vocational subjects.

Music, as a subject of study, has been an integral part of the Indian education system at the school level while universities and colleges such as Bengal Music College and Saurashtra University offer degree courses in Indian classical music. The influence of the West on our thinking and work culture has resulted in a sharp rise in the demand by the students to pursue degree programmes in western music.

Though universities such as Bharathisadan University in Tiruchirappalli and Fergusson College in Pune offer comprehensive bachelor degree programmes in music, there are many other educational institutions like Bundelkhand University’s Faculty of Arts and Tilak Manjhi in Bhagalpur that offer training in western musical instruments such as the violin. There are very few educational institutions in India that offer full-fledged courses in western music.

The Bangalore Conservatory offers a three-year comprehensive degree programme in western music. It covers theory of music, church music leadership, history of western music and performance which is preceded by a five-week summer music seminar.

The number of students applying for core courses in music has increased in the last five years. Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey University in Mumbai, Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music and Shantiniketan in West Bengal have been offering a full-fledged course in western music theory and vocation for the last few years. Delhi University offers a Ph.D. in Music and a postgraduate diploma in music.

Yanpothung Humtsoe, professor of history of western music and trainer for the piano and handbells at The Bangalore Conservatory, said: “There has been a constant increase in the number of applications for our course in western music over the last few years. We have dedicated students coming from different backgrounds to learn how to become professionals. This is why the programme is spread out over three years, so that a student can learn and practise and become a professional by the end of the programme.”

After pursuing this programme and getting a degree in western music, students can choose careers as music trainers, instructors, singers, and composers. But, it is simply not limited to these fields. One can even choose to write music.

The Central Government, however, has still not recognised western music as a mainstream area of study. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, which oversees higher education in the country, is yet undecided on giving recognition to western music. “As the government does not recognise western music as an area of study, many students lose out on scholarships or opportunities that need government aid. We want government support. We are in constant talks with them to help western music,” Mr. Yanpothung said.

(The writer is a trainee journalist at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media)