Meet the Team: Adarsh Rajaraman

Our vision for Sivana is always evolving, but one aspect that stays consistent is our expectation of building and fostering a warm, safe community of learners. In this spirit, over the course of several weeks we’ve been spotlighting our team of interns and their work on all the improvements coming to our blog, website, and social media. We look forward to all of you meeting the individuals building our learning community. Join the community at www.sivana.live

Today we will focus on Adarsh:

(Three fun facts: Adarsh’s favorite restaurant in Milwaukee is Casa Blanca, his favorite chromatic chord is an E7 functioning as an augmented 6th , and he plays many instruments)

Bryant:

When did you join Sivana?

Adarsh:

About 3 months ago. I met our CEO, Ben Horst, through Handshake and after a couple interviews joined the team.

Bryant:

How have the first few months been?

Adarsh:

I’m really happy to say that I’ve learned a lot! When first joining the team, one of the most important things I wanted to get was hands-on experience. It’s funny–I thought that by joining a busy start-up environment, work would always find its way to me. I quickly realized that there is a lot of flexibility in choosing what I want to work on, and that is very rewarding.

Bryant:

You’re going to college in Minnesota but you’re from Henderson, Nevada, right? That’s quite a weather change.

Adarsh:

I live in Henderson right now, but I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; I lived in Milwaukee till I was 18, went to college in Minnesota, and over breaks and such I stay with my aunt in Henderson, so the weather change wasn’t too bad. This desert weather is all I could ask for though, it’s always ideal.

Bryant:

So, you’re certainly not moving back north after college?

Adarsh:

I don’t think so.

Bryant:

I read that you started playing saxophone at the age of 10. How did that come about?

Adarsh:

My elementary school required that every kid play an instrument in fourth grade. I probably chose saxophone because I saw it on the back of a cereal box or something and just thought it looked cool, but after I started, I was hooked. In fifth grade, I began taking private lessons which further catapulted my interest. When I got to high school, I also met people with several years more experience than me, and in that group found mentors. I also had a really excellent band teacher that was always there for me. From these different places and people, I also discovered an interest in music theory, production, and performance.

Bryant:

Which saxophone do you play?

Adarsh:

I started on the alto and that’s my primary instrument, but I was involved in some musical productions and picked up some others. I also play tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, and sing.

Bryant:

So, if noise comes out of it, you can make it musical?

Adarsh:

Maybe. (laughs)

Bryant:

What was the music scene like in Milwaukee?

Adarsh:

It was pretty active. I never got a chance to get involved with the jazz scene which I got into in high school. In downtown Milwaukee there is a program called the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where the jazz program is extremely good. I was informally involved with them in high school and formally for a year. I was able to meet musicians that were way better than me at everything which was quite intimidating, but I also met musicians more near my skill level who go to my school and we still play.

Bryant:

All this focus on music and your college major is undecided but leaning towards business, how did that happen?

Adarsh:  

(laughs) That was a huge conversation my senior year. Music has always been and will always be a huge part of my life, but the second I make something that’s fun for me work, my interest is compromised. I’d rather have music remain a passion. With going to college, I want to get a degree that’s more versatile to fall back on, because music isn’t going away.

Bryant:

Would you ever want to blur the lines and work in something like the music business?

Adarsh:

Yeah, there is a saying that music is 50% being good at music and 50% marketing, since it doesn’t matter if you’re the best if nobody knows you. So, working in this business, Sivana, as a marketing intern, I think could potentially help me with music down the line. And I’ve also considered other jobs that “blur the lines” like being a copyright lawyer for a musician or something.

Bryant:

Music certainly needs lawyers. Knowing that you’re into production, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody’s already threatened to sue you for some sample.

Adarsh:

Not yet, thankfully.

Bryant:

Being a true music creator and thinker, do you see that creative side playing a role in your studies and work?

Adarsh:

I think it certainly does affect how I approach problems, but I’d be lying if I knew exactly how it did. I suppose start-ups need creativity because ideas go further at start-ups than more established businesses and my work with music has improved my ability to think creatively, but I want to work on it more—get into art and drawing and just be more versatile. Overall, I think my creativity is more subliminal than overt.

Bryant:

On Sivana, you’re teaching music theory, which is the more tedious grammatical side of music, sort of the opposite of the creativity we just spoke about. Why were you interested in teaching people to have a passion for music theory?

Adarsh:

Well, it’s one of the few things in music you can teach. A lot of music is so subjective, that there are not a lot of rules you can pass on to the next person. With music theory, there are rules and structures you can know and understand, and these structures can help you with the creative side of music too. For example, I got into music theory my freshman year of high school, when I realized how much I was behind the seniors. I started doing ear training, learning all my scales and chords, and I found that what I was learning was informing my jazz improvisation. Even though music is so much about intuition, a beginner needs to know their scales and intervals because it can enhance their creativity.

Bryant:

Why does “music” theory stand out to you more than art theory, acting theory or any other theory? Other than that it’s what you know?

Adarsh:

I just find it so much fun (laughs). I’m sure there is something special about every art theory, but they change from country to country, while music theory throughout the Western Hemisphere is somewhat the same, which makes it very applicable.

Bryant:

Moving forward with Sivana, what do you want to get out of this work experience?

Adarsh:

I don’t have a lot of experience with marketing and I’m looking for Sivana to give me that concrete experience, because I’m not sure if it’s something I want to potentially do as a career in the future.

Bryant:

You’ve been in three different cities, play many instruments, and you’re in school; you have a lot going for you. What made you choose Sivana?

Adarsh:

I initially was looking at all types of companies, but I liked that Sivana was a start-up that I could have a lot of impact on. Also, as well as business and music, I considered teaching as a career and I liked that Sivana’s mission was a simple approach to teaching—connecting people who know stuff with people who want to learn stuff, no gatekeeping and boundaries. That idea struck a chord with me (pun intended) because it’s something I’ve been genuinely interested in for years.

Bryant:

In five years where do you want to be?

Adarsh:

I struggle with these long-term plans (laughs). I’m not sure where I want to be with my career because I feel like I have a lot left to learn, but in terms of my interest I think music will be a constant. I hope to invest in that in the future. But, generally, I’m not sure because there is so much I don’t know yet.

Bryant:

Spoken like a true jazz improviser, you got the structure and the rest will fill itself out. It was really a pleasure speaking with you and I’m glad to get to shine a spotlight on you today.

Adarsh:

Thank You!

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Find Adarsh’s profile on Sivana, and sign up for his one-on-one or group lessons in Music Theory right here.

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