Ritesh and the team at Bridge Music Academy have been using Rockschool resources to teach contemporary, western music to students in Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh since 2009.

We caught up with Ritesh to talk about his experience influencing music education across northern India for our latest 'Rockschool Stories'.

Credit: Rohit Lal Photography

"We want to bring quality music education to as many musically starved people in India as we can."

Can you give us a brief explanation of your teaching business?

Bridge Music Academy has been offering music tuition in 'Western Classical' and contemporary music since 2009, with four branches in Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh. We have over 500 students studying across our four branches of the Academy, supported by over fifty highly qualified music educators. Subjects taught include Piano, Keyboards, Drums, Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass and Ukulele.

Out Now! Rockschool's Piano and Keyboard syllabuses were completely separated and rewritten for 2019

How long have you been using Rockschool, and why has it worked for you?

We have been using Rockschool since 2005. We discovered Rockschool books on musicroom.com and ordered these our of curiosity. Students loved the material as it is the music they listen to and gives them the skills of perform and even make music of their choice. The teachers love the syllabus as it caters to every aspect of their teaching through a comprehensive examination structure covering elements like technical work, ear tests, general musicianship questions, sight reading and improvisation, along with allowing students to learn and perform the music of their choice.

Credit: Rohit Lal Photography

What’s your favourite performance piece to teach, and how does it improve your learners?

I have too many favourites, but if I have to pick one: I am currently teaching “He’s A Pirate” from the Pirates of the Caribbean Theme. It's a great new composition for our Piano students to add to their repertoire. The piece is beautifully arranged and is perfectly benchmarked for this level. Students build their own composing skills along with their understanding of octaves and syncopation. The middle section features left hand arpeggios that stretch over and octave, which is an ideal accompaniment pattern to know at this level. A lot of the students already know the theme by ear too, so they enjoy learning it from the start.

Piano Play-Thru: Nick Maw takes his viewers through "He's a Pirate" on his YouTube channel

What’s your favourite test to teach, and why is it important for your learners?

My favourite is getting to teach improvisation on a swing rhythm with my grade 3 piano students. Generally improvisation is very important because it makes students think about the building blocks of music. They see the importance of music theory as it becomes increasingly important here, so it's nice to see them connecting the theory to the practical application from this stage. You still need to put the work in order to be creative!

Credit: Rohit Lal Photography

What’s your favourite success story?

One of my students, Ruhani, started to prepare for a grade 4 classical piano exam last year. Getting her to practice outside of the lessons became increasingly difficult. Her parents also found it difficult as they could not relate to the music she was playing. This year I introduced her to Rockschool Grade 5 Piano and she was immediately excited to see some of her favourite songs listed in the book. In under 2 weeks she had mastered her first exam piece. I remember her being so surprised by this she said to me “Do you remember how long it took me to learn a performance piece last year! It was close to 2 months!”. The reasons why she picked up this music much quicker was not because the music is not demanding, or interesting enough - it's actually more demanding than comparable classical grade - but because she couldn’t stop herself from practising! She loved the music, which inspired a consistent routine and therefore: more learning, more enjoyment and more satisfaction. Even her parents enjoyed listening to her practise!

Credit: Rohit Lal Photography

What musician(s) inspired you to start playing?

My friends in school introduced me to artists like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, MLTR, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, and many other fantastic rock bands. I actually played in bands for years completely by ear before getting into formal training. As I started learning, my taste in music grew, and I got into some amazing artists like Parliament Funkadelic, Joe Zawinul, Trilok Gurtu, Steve Gadd, James Brown, Chick Corea and Rush. That's the thing that some people miss about studying music formally, it can really help you to appreciate music in a way you never thought about before.

Enter Sandman! You can play Metallica's classic track on the Rockschool Grade 2 Guitar syllabus

Do you have any goals for the future of your teaching business?

We want to bring quality music education to as many musically starved people in India as we can. In practical terms, our future plans are to expand the business to include an online academy, and to build new franchises to help quality music education find its way into places that have never had to opportunity to take advantage of it before.

ENTER NOW! UK & Ire students can enter for their next exam anytime before the 17th Jan 2020

A big thank you to Ritesh for taking the time to speak to us. If you'd like to inquire into how you can learn with Rockschool in India, you click on the image below to get started now!

RSL India: Ritesh attends the Rockschool Guitar, Bass & Drums Launch event in 2018

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