Please tell us about yourself
Compared to pursuing engineering, medical and MBA degrees abroad, takers for courses related to music in foreign universities are still in the minority.
But every now and then, those musically inclined from Pune are flocking to prestigious institutes all over the world to learn offbeat subjects like artiste management, music business while picking skills to master contemporary western musical instruments.
The reason, similar programmes aren’t readily available in the country and the common thread that defines them all, we found out, is an innate passion for music and wanting to do something related to it.
Vinay Kaushal grew up listening to the strains of a sitar played by his mother, but during adolescence the guitar became his instrument of choice. His love for it grew so much, he felt the need to take a hiatus from college to work on his music. At this point, he was pursuing Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Symbiosis.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Realising Vinay’s occupation with the stringed instrument wasn’t a passing fancy, his father encouraged him to take his passion seriously. Heeding his advice, he applied to Musicians Institute (MI), an elite music school located at Hollywood, California.
After some rigorous selection rounds, he made the cut. He left for Hollywood in August 2011 to pursue Associate of Arts in Guitar Performance and although the education cost him a fortune, he feels every penny spent was worth it. In part, he was inspired to take admission in the reputed music institute when he was thoroughly impressed by city-based guitarist Bhrigu Sahni’s performance after he returned from Berklee College of Music, Boston. “I was amazed at how Bhrigu had improved dramatically,” says Vinay.
He went through a baptism by fire at MI where only the dedicated survive. “Three of my friends dropped out because they couldn’t handle the intensive course,” he remembers. For Vinay, the months rolled by swiftly as he immersed himself in learning the intricacies of blues, funk and jazz guitar playing.
Your career plans?
“I joined MI because it suited my requirements. It is like going to Harvard, you are better prepared to fight for your share,” he says. Since his return, the 23-year-old has been performing at concerts regularly with his band Empty Cafe, but his dreams for the future are big. “I am planning to move to Mumbai to establish myself and network with people in the industry. I am keen on doing background scores for Bollywood films.
My goal is to achieve something spectacular with my band,” he reveals. The big picture he has in mind will take time to materialise, but for now, the thrill of having performed for an audience that included jazz legend Herbie Hancock is still fresh in his mind.