Written by Shalini Saxena on 31 January 2019
Music is a simple yet powerful way of influencing us as individuals and as a community. Shankar Mahadevan Academy (SMA) believes music education can impact human lives in many positive ways. In a short span of 7 years, SMA has provided quality music education to students present in 74+ countries across the globe. Having set new benchmarks in online music education and attaining immense success as an online music academy, SMA desires to make music education accessible to one and all.
A few years ago, the Academy’s CEO, Sridhar Ranganathan narrated this conversation he had with his friend Shankar Mahadevan: “We need to make music classes available to people who may not be able to afford the fees. Imagine how will it be, if we are able to provide music education to the underprivileged communities? Think of the numerous ways in which music can touch their lives. What if we reach to every section of our society regardless of their age, gender, religious beliefs, and socio-economic background? Can you imagine how music can inspire a change which will impact their lives and the nation in such a positive way?” This was July 2016! Fast Forward to the present day, Inspire India Project (IIP) has laid its foundation in three cities - Mumbai, Bengaluru and Mysuru, with many upcoming centres in various locations across India.
So what is IIP and why it is close to our hearts?
IIP is not just an initiative, it’s a dream to make music education accessible to all instead of it being a luxury for a privileged few - to make it available to the ones who are not aware of its countless benefits and to make music a household conversation. We have an abundance of talent in India, most voices and dreams get overshadowed as they do not get the right platform to hone their skills. IIP’s mission is to impart music education to students of all ages, and provide these students with an avenue to develop themselves. The journey started with two simple initiatives - one was the Archive to Alive Project and other was the Joyful Choir for special children. Through Archive to Alive we are working to bring the works of great artists and their rare compositions to the world. For the Joyful Choir, we work with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their parents to help the children express themselves musically.
In January 2018, the first IIP centre was launched in Mumbai and Mr. Javed Akhtar graced the event as the chief guest. In his words “This opportunity to learn music that the students (of D.S High School) are receiving is something that many Indians dream of.” While addressing the IIP team and school students, Javed Ji emphasized how music makes us happier human beings:
Javed Ji's speech at IIP Mumbai launch
And with immense support and guidance from Shankar Ji and his sons Siddharth and Shivam, the IIP Mumbai students performed at multiple events including a performance at the Gateway of India, Mumbai to salute our fallen heroes from 26/11 and at the Republic TV Summit in the presence of Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi.
Gateway of India and Republic TV Summit Performances
Accomplishments - IIP Mumbai
Another milestone was achieved in October 2018 with the launch of IIP Bangalore Centre. We have some exceptionally talented students from Shubham Karoti Gurukula and Rashtriya Military School (RMS). When we connected with them we could see that both the institutions maintain brilliant discipline and academic curriculum. Whereas the Gurukula girls had musical exposure as they chant Shlokas regularly, the RMS students had no or very little music education. Being a school for the children of our national heroes, most extra-curricular activities at RMS were focused on physical training or sports. Making music education a part of the school curriculum has introduced them to something new adding cheer and joy of music to their lives.
Shubham Karoti Gurkula and Rashtriya Military School
Timeline - IIP Bangalore
At both Mumbai and Bangalore centres the most inspiring have been our music classes for senior citizens at Dignity Foundation.
And the performances by our Joyful Choir of special children always give us goosebumps.
We are highly thankful to Tata Trusts and Tata Capital as well as the local communities at all three locations for bringing us closer to our goal of bringing back the joy of learning.