About Bindu Subramaniam
Bindu Subramaniam is a singer, songwriter, woman entrepreneur, Founding Director of SaPa in Schools and Dean at SaPa – Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts.
She is passionate about using intercultural perspectives and trans disciplinary education to create a systemic change, and develop social equality, cultural democracy and 21st century skills in children.
With that in mind, she co-founded the SaPa in Schools program with her brother Ambi Subramaniam in 2014.
At SaPa in Schools, music education is the primary channel of bringing about large-scale transformation, enhancing creativity, building confidence, and fulfilling potential.
So far, it has impacted over 100,000 children across India. Bindu is building an ecosystem for music education from the ground up, a first-of-its-kind innovation for the Indian market.
This involves designing the curriculum, setting the syllabus, authoring all learning material, training and empowering educators, and also convincing stakeholders of the need.
With employability trends becoming harder to set in stone, the new in-demand skills of the workforce are predicted to be 21st century skills – teamwork, empathy, and communication.
There is a huge body of research pointing to the role music plays in building these skills, and Bindu is working with various stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, and partner organisations) to make this a reality.
Bindu is a musician who has been performing on stage since she was 12 years old. She has performed in over 50 countries, and has collaborated with some of the best artists from the Indian and global music industry.
She received Honourable Mentions at the Billboard World Song Contest and was a finalist in the performance category of the Unisong International Song Contest.
She was nominated for a GiMA (Indian equivalent of the Grammys) for Best Pop Rock Album in 2011 and won a GiMA for Best Fusion Album – Live at Neues Gewandhaus, Leipzig in 2010.
In 2011, Bindu took over as Dean of SaPa, an institute that takes in musically inclined children as young as three years old and trains them to become performers. SaPa has ten centres in Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai.
Bindu strongly believes that music is more than a feel-good element; it is a transformational tool that should be made available to every child. She works with over 16 government schools in partnership with organizations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation and has provided music education to over 16,000 children free of cost.
The impact has been profound; school principals reported a noticeable spike in school attendance on days when the children had SaPa classes.
A firm believer in the idea of innovation by “standing on the shoulders of giants,” or building on traditions, Bindu launched the 10,000 deeds campaign in 2018.
The campaign, conducted with SaPa and UNICEF partner organizations Comics Uniting Nations and The World’s Largest Lesson, was set up to encourage children to do their own part in saving the planet and aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The driving force behind the ecosystem for music education is the employment support it offers to mothers re-entering the workforce and musicians who can sustain a livelihood pursuing their passion.
Bindu designed a teacher training and certification program in partnership with The Norwegian Academy of Music, one of Europe’s most prestigious conservatories conservatory built and maintained by the Norwegian government.
Other partner organizations have included the International Society for Music Education (ISME), Fondation Royaumont, BookASmile, The Infosys Foundation, and Kulturtanken.
Bindu was one of India’s first educators to develop a toddler-focused musical training module and has co-authored 15 SaPa textbooks in total.
She writes the course material for children of all age groups, which has been translated into Tamil and Kannada. She designed the curriculum to include a global music component, which introduces children to languages as well as cultural practices from over 15 countries.
She also wrote the Music and the World Around component, which helps students draw parallels between music and “real world” topics like history, math and physics.
Bindu has been described as a “third generation prodigy treading her own path,” a gen-next achiever to look out for, and a prominent Karnataka woman educating differently.
She chairs the Bangalore chapter of the All India Management Association’s Young Leaders Council, and was a delegate of the Australia India Youth Dialogue in 2018.
She was also invited to Israel in 2018, as part of the delegation that contributed to advancing India-Israeli ties. She writes a biweekly column for a leading national newspaper.
Bindu is a part of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program (cohort of 2020). She has a master’s degree in law from London University, a master’s certificate in songwriting and music business from Berklee College of Music, a Montessori diploma, an MPhil, and is currently working on a PhD in Music Education.
She is currently working on designing undergraduate courses in music education, technology, and performance.
Bindu is married to Sanjeev Nayak, and has one human daughter in addition to five cat children. She is also a blogger (find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), and is known to have a slightly unnatural affinity towards Legos and cake.
About SaPa India:
The Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SaPa) was founded in 2007, by India’s violin icon Dr. L. Subramaniam and Bollywood legend Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam.
Led by noted singer-songwriter Bindu Subramaniam and ace violinist Ambi Subramaniam, SaPa has been nurturing the next generation of performers and sharing knowledge across cultural boundaries.
The SaPa Method is interdisciplinary and emphasizes technique, so children build a strong foundation and can pick up new skills as they progress.
They are constantly encouraged to absorb as many different elements and styles of music as they can.
Students from SaPa have been involved in various large-scale initiatives; in 2017, they launched the 10,000 deeds campaign contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals in partnership with UNICEF.
They have performed live at prestigious events across the country, including the Under The Raintree Women’s Cultural Festival, India’s first event curated entirely by women (where they performed for two years in a row).
They have also shared the stage with musical legends like Aruna Sairam, and have been featured in music videos that have received millions of views on social media: Loka Samasta (ft. Aruna Sairam), A Million Dreams (to promote the SDGs in partnership with UNICEF), Superheroes Without Capes, and Konnakol Playhouse.