On Sunday, July 5, 2015, the first conference for teachers of Western music was held in Delhi. The original scope of the conference was music teachers in Delhi, but the conference brought together over 50 participants from all over North India, including Banaras, Mumbai, Ludhiana, and Chandigarh – music teachers who were quite excited to be part of this new and much needed venture. The 8 conference presenters, all trained music educators from Delhi and beyond, covered a wide range of interesting topics from starting a band and school choirs to singing and music education pedagogy, classical and rock history, improv, and composition to music teaching as a profession itself. The 8 hour conference was held at the Delhi School of Music, chosen for it’s support of the endeavor and for it’s heritage of bringing Western music to so many. Originally created as targeting teachers in Delhi, it became clear by the end of the conference day, however, that the conference and its theme is needed all over India.
The conference was initially conceived by an group of four people, Anjli Mata from Trinity College London, Ritesh Khokhar founder of Bridge Academy in Delhi, Natalie Sarrazin, Associate Professor of Music from The College at Brockport, State University of New York, which also financially supported part of the conference, and Poonam Burman, music director at Fr. Agnel School and instructor at Theme Music Institute.
The conference took shape a year ago, when Anjli Mata, Natalie Sarrazin, Ritesh Khokhar and Poonam Burman, began discussing what could be done to help music teachers in Delhi regarding pedagogy and other issues. The idea of professional development aimed at music teachers who might not have had such training in their education came to mind initially, and the four founders began brainstorming ways to offer sessions to help teachers fill in some gaps in their education.
The main goals of the conference were to bring together western music teachers to network and participate in professional development, but also to gain support by forming a larger group that could help them with their professional career and livelihood. One major outcome of the conference is to follow up with a Western Music Teachers’ Society as well, that will help all types of music teachers (academic, part-time, full-time, private, public, studio, etc.) with insurance coverage, contract and other legal matters. The WMTS is planning on holding events throughout the year on a range of topics from accounting to contracts and other legal matters, as well as continuing professional development workshops.