Sahana Gero

Finalist in Wandsworth Entrepreneur of the Year 2014

The World Heart Beat Music Academy grew out of The 51st State Band and its projects. The 51st State Band was founded by Sahana Gero from the humble beginnings of a doughnut party held in a small living room one afternoon in 2000 … Since then, the band has grown to well over 100 young musicians and is perhaps the largest community concert band in London. The 51st State band has successfully been running programmes for ‘disadvantaged’ children and young people in Wandsworth, London taking its inspiration many years ago from the ‘El Sistema’ projects in Venezuela, which has made musicians out of half-a-million young Venezuelans and has transformed the lives of many underprivileged and at-risk youths in the process.

Sahana takes music all over the world, performing herself in concerts in over 50 countries. Specialising in playing the Bengali music of Sri Chinmoy, she has performed in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia and the Ukraine, North, South and Central America, China, Japan and Bangladesh. She has also taken the opportunity to visit schools and teach in many of these countries, striving to make music accessible and inspirational to the lives of children everywhere. Very recently, she has been working on a musical project with the children from the slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Sahana has been working in music education for over 18 years and has taught more than 1000 children musical instruments. She has been an examiner for Trinity Guildhall for many years and holds the post of Head of Woodwind for the Wandsworth Music Service. She has been twice nominated for the highly prestigious Women of the Year Lunch Award (2010 and 2013). This sees women from all walks of life honoured for their unique and often truly heroic contribution to modern day life, whether it be in art, science, politics, business or in the humanitarian arena.

In December 2011 Sahana received the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Neighbourhood Excellence Initiative Award, given to only five community leaders, of whom are significantly helping to improve their local communities. “Our Neighbourhood Excellence Initiative recognises individuals and organisations that make a positive impact in their local communities,” said Jonathan Moulds, president, Europe at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. With this award and a group of supporters, Sahana turned an abandoned building into a boldly coloured, sound-proofed music school, complete with performance space and lesson rooms, and opened the doors to the World Heart Beat Music Academy in May 2012.

In 2014 Sahana was a finalist in Wandsworth’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and received a prestigious Action for Children’s Arts Members’ Award in November 2015.

The World Heart Beat Music Academy promotes a rich diversity of culturally linked musical genres and instruments so that young people from all backgrounds feel included. It is home to more than 200 students who receive music tuition in both traditional and non- traditional instruments and participate in public concerts. When it comes to learning music, Sahana works tirelessly to make every effort to remove any obstacles.

Sahana seeks for all of her students to experience the freedom and belief that anything is possible for them to achieve and that every individual has the capacity to succeed and be happy.

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