A Swiss musician in India – Bettina Amacher

As we eagerly await the showcase of an intercultural musical performance titled Crossing Boundaries, between the musicians from Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and Bangalore School of Music (BSM), we decided to catch up with Swiss musician Bettina Amacher, an elementary music teacher who has been closely involved with the project.

Bettina Amacher is a professional in Music Pedagogy from Zurich. After her education and work experience as a pre-school teacher, she did her masters in ‘Elementary Music Pedagogy’ at the Zurich University of the Arts. She enjoys the diversity of her work as a music teacher and has a special interest in intercultural music pedagogy.

Bettina tells us about her experience in working closely with Bangalore School of Music –

How long has the collaboration between ZHdK and BSM lasted?
The collaboration started in the beginning of 2015 when the first branch of students and members of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) came to collaborate with Bangalore School of Music. It has been seen as a success and in 2016 the decision was made to continue the project for five more years. So this year, the second exchange is happening between four students of ZHdK and BSM: The cellist Albin Ackermann, the harpist Rahel Schweizer and one guitarist Lazare Cherouana who came for two to four weeks, and I, who came for five months to stay with BSM. The collaboration will be continued very soon, as four members of the BSM will come to ZHdK this spring. So the exchange does not only happen in India, but also in Switzerland!

How many projects have you collaborated on? What is the nature of these projects?
I have collaborated on various projects. Since I am specialized in Elementary Music Pedagogy, the projects I have collaborated on are rather broad. I have been involved in two choirs, early music education, music and movement classes, outreach programs in government schools and pre-schools, specific workshops with the faculty and students, and a music course in a pre-school-teachers training. As you see, the nature of these projects is very different. For example the resources of schools and the social background of the involved children varies a lot, as some projects take part at the BSM and others are part of outreach programs. The important element among all these projects is, that they are always based on a collaboration between the teacher from BSM and me as a representative from ZHdK. This is the only way we can learn from each other and exchange ideas about teaching methods, music or theories connected with the ‘real-life’ situations in the projects. I think, this is the soul of ‘Crossing Boundaries Musically’.

Why did you choose Bangalore School of Music to collaborate with in India?
During my studies I had heard of the project ‘Crossing Boundaries Musically’ and I was very curious about how it could be to work as a music teacher in a different context – culturally, musically and pedagogically. However, as I am a person who likes to take time to gain an understanding of a different cultural context, I decided not to take part in the short term program but to come to BSM for a few months after I had completed my studies. Also, I felt that this exchange program is a unique opportunity for me to stay within my profession as an elementary music teacher – but in a different context as Bangalore School of Music is for me. Not only I have learned much about the Indian music scene and education system and widened my own boundaries that way. Also the collaboration and ongoing exchange helped me a lot to reflect about the western music scene and education system.

Aside from Crossing Boundaries, are there any other upcoming performances in India or Switzerland this year?
The concert ‘Crossing Boundaries’ is part of the East West Music and Dance Encounter, which is organized by the Bangalore School of Music. It will also include a performance by the harpist Rahel Schweizer with the BSM chamber orchestra on February 25th. Also there have been and will be smaller concerts and instrument presentations within BSM for students and the faculty. And I am sure a lot of music awaits us as this collaboration goes on.

We hope Bettina inspires other talented Swiss artists such as herself to come to India and bring their unique talents to the country.

swissnex India, Consulate General of Switzerland is happy to continue supporting the collaborations between ZHdK and BSM and look forward to their many musical outcomes.

Photo credit: Nikita Anders