Back in 2009, musician Vinay Rao conducted a music workshop at the Loreto Day School in Sealdah, Calcutta. Loreto educates children who come from well to do economic backgrounds as well children from impoverished and abusive backgrounds, who live on the school premises. This inspired the 24 year old, who is part of the band ‘Fourth and Main’, to start his own musical programme to enrich and empower lives of less privileged children through music. Vinay says, “Seeing how music helped the children at Loreto, I had the desire to start a similar program on a regular basis in Bangalore.” Thus Ascent of Harmonies (AOH), a Bangalore- based registered Non-Profit music outreach programme was born.
In a chat, Vinay tells me more about how Ascent of Harmonies aims to impact young minds.
About the programme
The children who live and study here have been rescued from various circumstances. There are children who used to work as laborers, beggars and some who have been abused. There are also many who come from dysfunctional families, those who have dropped out from other educational institutions due to various reasons and orphaned children. These are children who are recovering from physical and mental abuse and we want to help them through music therapy.
We work in collaboration with the APSA (Association for Promoting Social Action) Dream School Project in Bangalore. The Ascent of Harmonies was officially registered in 2011 and our music outreach program in collaboration with APSA began in July 2013. We have been working with them over the last one year.
The music education program is for 20 hours, 5 days a week. We have daily music classes and when required additional practice sessions. Currently our curriculum is focused around guitars and vocal classes. We wish to expand the program by including keyboard studies. We also teach English as a second language (ESL) through lyrics and songs.
The experience has been phenomenal in terms of the impact we were able to make. We have over 40 students at the moment.
How do you sustain the programme?
Since we teach the children for free, we were fortunate to raise funds for this program in India and also abroad. We have also used crowd funding programmes like Indiegogo.
We want the program to grow over time and make a larger impact in terms of music education and therapy in India. We hope to provide this opportunity of music education to more children who do not have access to it. We plan to raise awareness primarily through benefit concerts and through other musicians.
Managing your music career
My passion for music and the outreach program are linked. I do not differentiate between them. I get to teach music and use this as a means to help people while at the same time working on my own material with my band.
Published on July 14, 2014 in The New Indian Express.