Background and objective

The WAM Foundation was established in 2008 initially to give young, UK based musicians (typically students or recent graduates from leading conservatoires or universities) the opportunity to teach Western classical music to  students in India, during their summer vacation. This was intended as a first step in a wider exchange of music culture.

There is a rapidly increasing demand for Western classical music tuition across India, with several hundred specialist schools, but there is a great shortage of experienced teachers and most local teachers lack the breadth of musical repertoire and experience which we take for granted in the West.

The opportunity therefore exists to share this wider perspective with Indian music schools and in the four years we have operated, the ability of our ‘WAMers’ to add considerable value has been demonstrated effectively through a range of activities, from one-to-one teaching to  workshops and concerts. To ensure a lasting impact, we particularly encourage WAMers to share their broadly based knowledge, techniques and general musicianship with local teachers.

Equally, the opportunity to live and work in such a fascinating environment has proved a ‘life changing’ experience for most of the young musicians whom we have sponsored.  

WAM originated from the experience of two young musicians, Duncan Ward and Esme Anderson, who travelled to India on their own initiative at the age of seventeen and found the experience of teaching there so rewarding both to their students and to themselves that they resolved to extend the opportunity to others. 

The Scheme

WAM has established relationships with a number of music schools in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Cochin and Trivandrum and the list continues to grow.

The essence of the scheme is that each WAMer is placed at a school for the months of July and August where he or she will be required to teach piano / keyboard and perhaps a second instrument for between twenty and thirty hours per week. In return for this, the school will provide basic accommodation and cover essential living expenses and travel to and from work. Normally at least two WAMers will be sharing the accommodation, whether or not they are work at the same school.

The cost of flights and insurance is covered by WAM, so the WAMer will only have to finance pocket money, tourism expenses plus the cost of visas and vaccinations (in exceptional circumstance WAM may help with these expenses also).

In addition to teaching in the designated school, WAMers are encouraged to reach out into the wider community, sometimes, for instance, putting on workshops for ordinary state schools in conjunction with the British Council. A number have also worked regularly with underprivileged children in slum areas.

Many WAMers have sought to acquaint themselves with Indian classical music and some have even taking the opportunity to learn a new instrument to a basic level.