Tandon Global Clinics Give Indian Students Access to Berklee Teaching

By 
Kimberly Ashton
August 9, 2016
Dennis Montgomery III, an associate professor in Berklee's Ensemble Department, talks with students at the Tandon Global Clinic.
Guitarist Alief Hamdan '14
Faculty and alumni talk about their backgrounds and answer questions from the audience at the Tandon Global Clinic.
Pamela Hersch Gonzalez
Pamela Hersch Gonzalez
Pamela Hersch Gonzalez

For many musicians in India, the prospect of studying in a Berklee classroom feels like a distant one. Not only is the college thousands of miles from home, its cost can be beyond the means of an average Indian family. But over the past two years, through the Berklee Tandon Global Clinic series, the faculty has been bringing the Berklee experience to India for hundreds of Indian musicians.

Made possible by a gift from Chandrika Tandon, an entrepreneur and Grammy-nominated musician, five clinics have been held over the past year: in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai, with the last two in June. Workshops have included Musicianship in the Studio; Music Technology in Live Performance and Production; Live Guitar Performance Systems; the 21st Century Vocalist; and Technology Applications for the Electronic Musician, among others. 

“We’re so excited that with Ms. Tandon’s support, we’re able to go out there and meet musicians of all ages and backgrounds, and maybe inspire them to take the next step—whatever step that next step may be—for their lives, or at least think seriously about how they can put their natural, inborn talent to use in a different way,” said Annette Philip, artistic director of the Berklee India India Exchange (BIX), which facilitates the clinics. 

One of those students who took the next step is Girish Patro, a 25-year-old from Parlakhemundi, India. He had been looking for work as a mixing engineer and attended a June clinic focused on music technology and production in Chennai. Through the clinic, not only was he able to more deeply understand the importance of the preproduction process and how to solve some postproduction issues, but he got a tip that led to a job. Heeding advice about internships, Patro found one at a Mumbai studio that he heard about from another clinic participant. It was at this internship that he became aware of a record producer and contacted him about a job. The tip paid off: the producer hired Patro as a sound engineer. 

One of the educators who helped Patro with his questions about postproduction was Stephen Webber, who for years headed Berklee’s Master of Music in Music Production, Technology and Innovation program at the college’s Valencia, Spain campus. Webber said he left India impressed. “The students in Chennai and Bengaluru were totally engaged, talented, and hungry for tools and strategies they could apply to their music,” he said.

This interaction between faculty and students, and among students themselves, is what makes the clinics work, said Clint Valladares, managing director of BIX. “Students really felt that they had an access point to Berklee faculty... and could ask questions and not feel they are being judged.”

An Opportunity for Adventure

Students at the clinics include a range of musicians, from people who own their own studios to those who are not yet sure they want to pursue music, Philip said. “It was amazing to see the amount of diverse interests. The depth and breadth of ideas that were coming out of these young musicians was really inspiring. As an Indian myself, I was really happy to see that these are the next generation of writers, composers, producers, and performers. It was everything from EDM and hip-hop and trance music, to acoustic singer-songwriter stuff—a lot of indie things going on.” EarthSync, an Indian company that supports independent artists by providing touring opportunities and infrastructure, partnered with Berklee for the Bengaluru and Chennai clinics. 

These clinics marked the second time in 2016 that Berklee brought clinics to India. At a May clinic in Mumbai, about 150 people attended an event taught by faculty members Dennis Montgomery III, Livingston Taylor, and Philip as well as by several Berklee students and alumni, including vocalist and keyboardist Desmond “D.J.” Scaife ‘16, drummer Yogev Gabay, bassist Elin Sandberg ‘16, and guitarist Aleif Hamdan ‘14.  

“It was very encouraging to see intergenerational, culturally diverse, male and female energies aligned under the name of high-functioning artistic expression,” Scaife said. 

In the audience were people who had an interest in Berklee as well as those who have applied and been accepted. One attendee, a 26-year-old software engineer from Solan, said that he hopes to one day attend the college. Another engineer, 28-year-old Karan Pandav from Pune, added that he’s leaving his chemical engineering career this fall to come to Berklee. “I didn’t want to have any regrets,” he said of his decision to pursue music. 

Ultimately, encouraging students to pursue their dreams is what the clinics aim to do. “We just want to inspire these students, these participants, these musicians, to take a chance, to give themselves the opportunity to go on an adventure. At the same time, we’re there to offer support, to give guidance, and to also connect them to different people in the industry that we know,” Philip said. 

All musicians who are older than 15 and have been practicing their instrument for at least six months can apply to take part in the clinic by submitting material—preferably videos—that demonstrate their musical abilities. Find more information about the Berklee Tandon Global Clinics here.