Jazzing it up
Goa, today, has a thriving music culture. And in a bid to contribute to this, the Goa Jazz Academy (GJA) was established in March 2019 to deepen the love for learning music and in particular, the skills to perform and improvise.
“Our aim is to create the next generation of artistes, who by gaining access to world class teaching methods will have the skills to play with confidence on world class platforms,” says founder and director of the Goa Jazz Academy, Karan Khosla, a New Delhi-based guitarist currently living in Goa.
Originally, a physicist by training, Khosla’s initial years in business helped him to fund his musical pursuits. He went on to study and train under jazz pedagogue, Matthew Warnock, and then became heavily integrated into the Indian music scene. His bebop jazz trio perform at venues like The Piano Man Jazz Club, Depot 48, and festivals such as the Jazz India Circuit. Khosla also plays regularly for music acts such as BollyJazz, Mr Mawkin’s Rockabilly Revival, The NuDeli Rhythm Section and Mana and Co, and more. As a songwriter, Khosla has also written music for the alternative-rock band ‘The Limited Experience’
A year and a half ago, he moved to Goa with a vision to share his knowledge and inspire the huge pool of untapped talent in the state. “Goa has an advantage in that it has more music venues than anywhere else in the country – it also has a very rich musical heritage,” he says.
Currently operating out of Sangolda, the Academy caters to all; from beginners who want to learn the fundamentals of music to advanced musicians looking to further their vocabulary and repertoire.
Over the course of less than a year, the Academy has garnered an impressive following and reputation as one of the premier music institutes in the region. As far as private instruction goes, the Academy offers certificate courses in ear training, music theory, improvisation and specialisation courses for ukulele, guitar, bass, piano, drums, vocals, wind/reed, etc. “One of our more successful programmes is the band/ensemble education programme that teaches students about the art and science of playing together,” says Khosla.
The Academy has also introduced group classes for adults and children. Additionally, a programme for young musicians called ‘Mini Mozarts’ was designed to help youngsters build their confidence in music.
Currently, Khosla teaches all the courses introduced at the Academy. “I want to be involved in every process for the next year, from pedagogical to administrative to make sure we streamline and quality control all aspects of our learning environment. That being said we are expanding our piano, vocal, and drum faculty within the next six months,” he says. The Academy also offers specialised workshops and master classes taught by visiting faculty. “UNESCO has also asked us to be the official partner for International Jazz Day 2020, for which we plan to host a multi-day learning oriented festival in Goa in April 2020,” he adds.
Elaborating on the Academy’s long-term vision for Goa, Khosla says: “Goa provides an incredible alternative learning environment. One is surrounded by venues, a loving audience, talented musicians, terrific opportunities to play music. What we envision, is a community where everyone can learn music – and enjoy playing music.”
Further, for those aspiring to become professional musicians, the Academy aims to teach them how to structure and organise their music education, how to curate the best possible musical experiences, adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and also push the envelope of creativity and expression.
Khosla credits the success of the Academy to the terrific support system in Goa: from musicians to businesses and venues. With his sights firmly on the future, he says: “My goal for the Academy is to make our learning methods available to many more people, across the region.”
“We are committed to creating a rigorous, but fun, and safe environment to learn about music – and my personal aim is to help aspiring musicians, students, remove the fear of learning music and embrace the joys of learning, improving and honing their musical skills,” he adds.
In October and November, in collaboration with USA-based Guitar For Life LLC (GJA), the Goa Jazz Academy plans to host the second batch of its GJA-GFL Jazz Ensemble Scholarship, an intensive six-week programme for musicians.
The aim is to create an accessible programme, free of tuition cost for participants, through which they would properly and rigorously learn the foundation of improvised music, using the principles of jazz to build deep, strong musical foundations, says Khosla. “Students are trained on how to learn songs, essentials of rhythm, ear training, how to craft ‘solos’, working together and performing with confidence,” he adds.
The study of jazz allows musicians to play confidently, improvise and adapt to almost any style, from blues, to rock and everything in between. “Anyone over the age of 12 can apply; but must be willing to commit to the programme for the entire duration of training which is twice a week, for two hours each for anywhere between eight to 10 weeks, depending on how quickly the ensemble is able to absorb the material,” says Khosla.
The first batch of the programme, the ‘Summer 2019 Jazz Ensemble Scholarship’ was held earlier this year. The intense two month level one programme was designed to give upcoming musicians in Goa the highest quality foundation course in music theory, practice and performance as well as give each musician the ability to play with confidence in an ensemble. The scholarship winners of the Jazz Ensemble Scholarship were Jesherun D’Cruz (bass), Leander Pinto (bass), Satya Nunes (guitar), Daniella Rodrigues (vocals), Clifton Atonacio Sequeira (flute), Joshua Fernandes (keys), Ackley Inacio Araujo (drums), Cassiel Pinto (drums), and Leander Mascarenhas (drums).
With programmes like the Jazz Ensemble Scholarship, the Academy aims at inviting musicians, in particular youngsters to use jazz as a vehicle to learn about the fundamentals of music, the music business, and professionalism as an artiste. Looking ahead, Khosla says: “We will continue to host master classes for various instruments by leading musicians from across the world – making high quality resources available for affordable prices, and if we can continue to get support, even do so for free.” [NT]