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BW Businessworld

Making Music Universal

Bindu Subramaniam carries forward the legacy of L. Subramaniam & Kavita Krishnamurthy to make music universal through SAPA

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SAPA, THE SUBRAMANIAM ACADEMY of Performing Arts, is keen on its mission to make music education accessible among different age groups and across diversities. Its co-founder Bindu believes in bringing music education to every child and building an ecosystem for music education from scratch — in schools, communities and now, even the Internet.

Started in 2007, with three teachers and two stu­dents in a small house in north Bangalore, SaPa has travelled many musical miles to the government schools and seven centres across Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. Talking to BW Businessworld, Bindu says, “We aim to make music education meaningful in the school context and move away from looking at music as an extracurricular subject alone — as something that a school does to fill a period or meet a certain certification requirement. We look at bringing in music and art for what it stands for — traditionally and also positively influencing an entire generation of children.” 

A concept conceived by her parents, L Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurthy, Bindu along with her brother Ambi now runs SaPa with the objective of creating a birth-to-Ph.D model music ecosystem across genres and continents by collaborating with education institu­tions, and individually mentoring children. The former however was affected by the onset of the pandemic. 

Pandemic Learnings 

As an organisation that principally operated through face-to-face interaction, the social distancing restrictions posed a novel issue of upskilling veteran faculty. “It has been a challenge. While EdTech is hot now, it’s completely different to work with really young students and babies as they need a teacher in front of them. That was the prem­ise on which we had built everything. But we managed to bring 10 of our centres online in two days although it isn’t just about having a child sit in front of the computer. We focused on social-emotional learning and helped them make sense of what was happening around them.” 

While their B2B operations were affected, Bindu stated that their B2C segment doubled significantly which she credits to the teachers. “Our teachers are our strength. As we were getting into the pandemic, our teachers were excited, especially older train­ers. Our company culture was lived through and teachers vol­unteered to help in all avenues.” 

Looking ahead, Bindu is keen on availing the benefits of the Internet and focusing on a baby segment. The pandemic-prompted shift towards the internet allowed SaPa to develop an LMS, integrate more artist interactions, expand to the Indian diaspora abroad and even look at building a gamified app. 

Bindu further explained, “We are also looking at products for the baby market between 0-3 years, so we can introduce the joy of music to children from birth. It is game-changing and something people haven’t looked at. We are taking all that we’ve learnt over a decade and hope to bring something mean­ingful in the segment.” 

The Expanding Class

SaPa hopes to resume physical operations across schools soon while still utilising the best of what the Internet has to offer. They cur­rently mentor 8,000 kids a year and hope to reach a million kids and establish a global presence that is attuned to the geography-specific cultural contexts.

Bindu predicts that even as the world is still reeling under the pandemic, in-person education will never die and technology will be used extensively for teacher training. She also sees a marked trend where people are moving from hard academia to holistic educational development, blur­ring the lines between core and non-core subjects. “We were even fortunate to consult on the National Education Policy and give some of our ideas on the importance of music education.” She believes that the system will change in the future and educa­tion, even at the primary level, will be more interdisciplinary.