‘Entrepreneurship is challenging, yet exhilarating experience’: Tanuja Gomes, Furtados School of Music
Women empowerment is about each one’s choice, and as a society we are not judging the same, says Tanuja Gomes, a banker-turned-entrepreneur.
Anushruti Singh March 6, 2020
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She made Furtados School of Music a synonym for music education in India. She wears multiple hats through the day – entrepreneur, mother and wife. The co-founder of Furtados School of Music, Tanuja Gomes aims to provide quality music education to students.
Gomes, a Chemistry graduate who did her masters from NMIMS, quit her 16-year long banking profession to become an entrepreneur. Her personal goal is to reach out to as many other fellow women entrepreneurs as possible, and build a thriving community that inspires, shares and supports each other. She is also a core committee member of CII Indian Women Network.
In a one-on-one conversation with SMEFutures.com, Gomes opens up candidly on how she is making quality music education accessible to children of all ages.
What does women empowerment mean to you?
I think today we are beyond the topic of women empowerment. It’s about empowering anyone who has dreams and enabling one to achieve them. Traditionally, the society has always perceived women’s growth and dreams with limitations and the expectations that they should largely function and grow in responsibilities within the household. I personally feel the empowerment is about each one’s choice and as a society we are supporting the same and not judging the same. In our organization, we support women leadership and support the training of young women employees for future leadership roles. They know that they can rise to the highest level.
You previously worked as a banker. What inspired you to take music as a career? Please tell us about your journey.
The Furtados group is my family owned company. Furtados, a 154-year-old company, has been in the space of retailing music instruments. As a family, we would very often discuss the vision of music education. During my stint with Barclays, I was lucky to have met and worked with Dharini Upadhyaya, who is also a very close friend. We realized our strengths and common goal and that’s how the journey of FSM started together, along with the support from the Furtados group.
How was the journey of your transformation? Could you please highlight some of the initial challenges?
I would say it has its highs and lows and that’s why it’s fun. Entrepreneurial journey is always a challenge, and that’s why we seek it. One of the biggest challenges we came across is spreading the message of classroom instrument learning music lessons. In India, we have largely learned music one on one, and therefore the vision of instrument music learning in a classroom all together was not easy for our teachers. In other parts of the world, it is how children learn music in schools. Now, we are proud to share that we have a sophisticated Learning Management System (LMS), which enables our teachers to deliver an efficient class and its consistent education across India.
Beyond work, how you keep up with the time?
I love travelling! So, all possibilities of escaping into a new world are welcome.
Furtados School of Music is synonymous with music education in India. What is your take on the current scenario of the music market in the country? How it has evolved so far?
The music industry has surely evolved over time. However, it still has a long way to go. Earlier in the day, the music industry wasn’t as organized as it is today. The market value for music has increased and people are taking much more interest in it – whether it maybe in the form of learning (education in music) or by listening to it. Music education was largely perceived as a hobby and was not comprehended as a core need. However, music teaching has proven to have many magical benefits.
We, at Furtados School of Music, are incorporating music in the curriculum for K-12 schools with support from visionary educators. Keeping in mind the dynamic nature of music education, we have developed our own digital app, known as High Furtados – which enables individuals to learn music online, under the guidance of our qualified teachers as well as gain opportunities for live shows. This enables music enthusiasts to learn music and make their talent known on public platforms. Apart from learning, many corporate companies are using music as a stress buster. Jamming to music is now a thing for a weekend evening at corporates. India is witnessing the largest movement in the area of music education.
Despite that, music education is scarce. How has been the experience of FMS, which is a pioneer in organizing music education in India?
It is a challenging journey. While there is a first movers’ benefit, a lot of time and effort continues to go into convincing educators; the benefits of music education in schools; and how it should be for everyone and not few. Also, the importance of sustaining music education is extremely important. Very often, it’s compared with any other activity and sometimes also treated as an option. In countries like the US and the UK, music education is compulsory. It has proven to provide great benefits to students in terms of their cognitive development, stress management and sharper focus.
In our country, we are still on the journey to give all students access to that. Offering specially-designed courses for each age group and associating with 140+ schools across the country has today enabled the introduction of music in the early years of children – helping them to develop their skill sets as well as indulging in a hobby. Our experience is that music is not always fun and needs some efforts. Discipline, practise and vigour are the elements one needs, while learning other core subjects and languages. With time and practise, it only gets better. We constantly seek this support from educators and parents.
India is rich in culture whether it is art or music. However, till now many Indian households don’t appreciate it as a profession. What’s your opinion?
We also feel strong about this topic, and thereby started FSM. We have a lot of episodes to narrate on how a lot of individuals have built their careers in music. Back in the day, parents too weren’t very pro-music, but today the society has evolved. Today, we see the trends changing. Music as a career too is seeing a high scope. With performing at clubs and social spaces, to be a part of a rock band, career perceptions have changed. We believe that if determined, anyone can make their passion their career and the music industry is definitely a booming one.
What is the 2020 roadmap for FSM?
We will continue our efforts to bring quality music education through our inspiring educators, whom we train to bring the best learning experience. We are also bringing a lot of technology in our learning. Music and technology go hand in hand. We have over 75,000 students. For the first time in our country, we will have an assessment tool for all kids at home. ‘FSM Buddy’ enables access to the learning content and practise at home. This software will capture how the student is playing, helping the teacher to focus in areas, as required.
One of the aspects of the music industry is fame; and today youth is creating a lot of content using music on social media. What’s your take on quality and opportunities?
Social media is a great platform to showcase talent and attract opportunities. We have witnessed great success stories where artists have risen through social media channels like Youtube, Instagram and Facebook, and this proves that opportunities today are given based on talent and passion. FSM, too, has developed some successful properties such as India’s most-aspired inter-school band competition ‘Band-It’; our centre recitals ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Cadence’. These are the performance stages provided to students to showcase their talent to all.
The music industry is still tough for women. What message do you wish to give to other budding entrepreneurs or people making a career out of it?
We are into music education and ed-tech. So, in a way, especially education is largely run by women. Therefore, we did not face any challenges. With regards to entrepreneurship, it’s challenging and yet exhilarating experience. One must be prepared to do all the roles. Each year has its own sets of achievements and challenges, yet it’s the only journey which is most satisfying. The fact that you have nurtured something from its inception, watched it grow and develop in a company that weaves the dreams of all that who are part – employees and students – is most gratifying.