BENGALURU: It has been 20 years since Thermal and a Quarter aka TAAQ took to music professionally. Founded by the guitarist Bruce Lee Mani and the drummer Rajeev Rajagopal, the band is raising funds to teach music to the underprivileged students to mark 20 years of their music school Taaqademy.
“It has been a fast but extremely rewarding 20 years of something that no one thought we would do, I guess. The domain of music is so vast and there’s so much to do. The personal satisfaction of playing an instrument never gets over,” says Rajeev.
The artistes have released seven albums and has performed in India and abroad. Rajeev says, “We played most number of shows in Europe. What took us by surprise is the kind of knowledge and exposure people have about music there. So, it feels like we are being judged on the basis of merit.”
Unlike Europe, in India, the live music scene is still new. The popular music is connected to Bollywood.
Bruce Lee says, “There is no popular music apart from film music. In any European, American or South East countries, people have a separate category called popular music other than film music. The thing with the Indian evolution of music is that it is so tied up with film.” Rajeev adds that the music is driven by the film stars and the fantasy around. “It’s the fantasy around the film that drives it…the actor, actresses in the song situation than the actual musicians who are playing that song. Shah Rukh Khan singing a song… that is what drives the music. In Europe, every one knows and has been been watching bands from when they were kids. In India, it is still new. It is picking up. Also, there is no regular live music happening here, be it Indian classical or even Bollywood,” he says.
The duo feels music education, if done right, has lot of value. “A structured music education changes you. It teaches you several things like creativity, teamwork and expression,” says Bruce Lee.
For the past couple of years, they have been teaching at international schools. The idea to start a project with the underprivileged children is to help them understand their skills and pursue what they want to do. “For most musicians, the first charity is themselves. As a musician, if you want to survive doing only music, it is not easy especially if you are in non-mainstream music. We can’t go to our faculty and ask them to do charity as for them, every cent counts. They have to pay their bills and look after their families. That is where the sustainability of this programme for us was difficult to understand. This year, a friend suggested crowdfunding,” adds Bruce Lee.
The campaign ‘No wall too High’ was launched 60 days ago to support three school in the city on the crowdfunding platform fueladream.com and they have already raised almost seventy per cent of the 10 lakhs that they are targeting. The Taaqademy team will train the students of all the classes for a year. “We would start in January. Once the funds come in, we will check their schedule, equipment and coordinate with the school,” says Rajeev. The aim is also to find some skilled students whom they can train separately at the music school, teach them to become teachers and provide some avenues. “We will also be taking some of our students from the current batch to teach these children. Most of our students are from privileged community. This can also be like a reality check for them,” adds Rajeev.
The curriculum will be basic but the way the classes are delivered will be different, they say. Rajeev says, “We need to plan a ice breaking session with them as they are from completely different backgrounds. We will start our class with some songs that they can relate to and then tell bring the theoretical aspects like keys, chords and notes.” Bruce Lee adds, “The aim is not to make a rockstar but make music part of the essential education.”
To support the project, you may visit www.fueladream.com/home/campaign/416.