Columnists,Shavinya Illankoon,Top Story l by Shavinya Illankoon l 21 Jul 2021     - 754

SLW Institute of Music: An Academy of Music Like No Other

Music is a universal language! Sometimes, when words tend to fail us, the melodious tunes of songs & compositions help us connect with our innermost feelings. We experience different heights of emotion when listening to any type of music. Be it a dance track, love song, healing anthem, or lullaby, it seems a song’s psychological desire can be easily distinguished.  

Some of us transform this musical drive into a passion, a profession while some of us seek to find joy via learning an instrument or singing. No matter how we choose to view this striking rise in interest, we can always choose to learn & cultivate it into something wonderful!

While diving into the rainy season, we at Hi!! were able to come across a one-of-a-kind institute situated right here in Colombo that aims to fulfill a typical music lover's requirement precisely! Not only do they form a bridge for aspiring musicians to find success in their pathways but they also divinely inculcate their love for music to new-found magnitudes! Introducing SLW Institute of Music where you can learn Music with a pinch of love and excitement!

The brand name ‘SLW’ stands for this impressive enterpreneur’s name; Shenuka Lakneeth Watthegama. Established six years ago, SLW Institute of Music is a splendidly built academy found in the Battaramulla-Pannipitiya Main Road with over 200 students enrolled to date. Having completed his academics in Music, Shenuka nurtured his vision of becoming a Music Teacher by helping ambitious individuals recognize their hidden flairs! 

Going back in time to 2015, he commenced his journey in teaching with only two students. Dressed in a suede jacket and riding his motorcycle, Shenuka would pay weekly visits to his students' homes.

Initially, his intention was to gain some extra earnings while continuing his higher education on the sidelines. However, once he drove down the path of teaching, he immediately fell in love with it and turned it into his passion! Shenuka realized that it is his life's mission to instill a love of music in those he dearly teaches, as well as to help them understand its value.

His soul filled with glee and enthusiasm, he would be well-prepared with a new guitar or piano lesson to teach his fellow pupils. Holding on to that glimpse of hope, he proceeded with his approach and immensely dedicated his efforts to pass on his love for music to his young ones. Ultimately, two students became four, and in no time, he had obtained a satisfactory group of budding artists!

Four years had passed and visiting classes reached its pinnacle with time where allocating a session for a new student was nearly impossible; "At first, finding students was very difficult since I had to build up a brand to attract an appropriate audience" he stated. With a soaring rise in the number of students, this prompted him to decide on expansion where he could fully utilize his time to teach all students simultaneously but effectively. This gradually diverged into a stylish institute with a rather chic interior, which he proudly calls 'SLW Institute of Music' today!

SLW Institute of Music is also Sri Lanka's first Smart Music Institute due to its integration of smart technology, making their daily operations more flexible and easy for staff & children. 

The 25-year-old Musical Maestro yearned to make his Music Institute more unique and appealing compared to other performing art schools in the island. "It was certainly to be unique in the game," Shenuka told us at Hi!!. "If you take my area, there are many institutes to be found but only we offer some contrasting services when opposed to the rest". He believes in creating a learning environment that his students will admire and enjoy, explaining why the fancy interior was chosen. The decor also displays five guitars and two pianos which profoundly showcase the fusion of different instruments to create a harmonic melody along with the exemplary abilities of his protegés. The sumptuous array and the seating arrangement explains why each class is limited to only 7 students, who also benefit from individual attention, considerately. 

The Institute provides lessons for Guitar, Piano, Ukulele and Voice Training for anyone and everyone who has an interest in music at any age range. In terms of Guitar, they offer Rhythm, Lead (Acoustic & Electric) and Bass for students. They commenced Voice Training classes last year, just before the pandemic, and this ship has been sailing quite nicely what with many students having registered over time! Additionally, SLW Institute of Music has taken up the challenge to provide Ukulele lessons by being one of the few places in the island to teach the instrument.

Furthermore, their lessons focus on a casual-oriented approach by teaching you to play or sing your favourite songs which enable students to express their skills candidly without restricting their artistic abilities. This also enables them to manifest their emotions into the music they play, elevating one's confidence & admiration enormously.

“When I was schooling, I did not have the necessary resources or equipment to produce my own music or even to make a video”; Shenuka filled us up on some recent add-ons to his business. “Most times, I did not receive the proper kind of support when I needed it. Now that I’m capable of supporting my students, I formed an initiative named “The Debut Artist”. This fully sponsors my students’ productions so that they can jolt out their creativity without any barriers and not feel the same way I felt”. Students at the Institute are encouraged to step up and think out of the box with their own lyrics and compositions which eventually can be turned into an amazing production! The whole process of a student's original song is completely free-of-charge and taken care of by the Institute while being promoted on YouTube. It is marketed on other streaming music platforms via their record label ‘SLW Records’ as well. The projects released so far would be "Don't Hold Me Back" by Shejana Buhary and "I'm the Queen" by Lisha Perera. 
This talented musician has also started his very own production house in correspondence to “The Debut Artist” edge; 'SLW Studios'. This venture focuses on Audio Production, Mixing & Mastering, Video Production, etc, for all his students’ needs as well as external clients’.

Moreover, the SLW Institute of Music started a ‘Covers Club’ a few years ago which enables all their outstanding students to get together and exhibit their talent as a team. A selected few had created a magnificent rendition for K'NAAN's "Waving Flag" in 2018 which had scored an excellent 15,000 views on YouTube! You can find a series of brilliant performances and mash-up videos for well-known songs on their YouTube Channel. That being said, due to the unceasing pandemic, they have introduced a new form of E-learning via online tutorials; “Although Online Schooling seems very convenient, it comes with its limitations. With easy access at any time of day, we have decided to take one step further in making E-learning more fun & easy with hopes of breaking these barriers”.

Shenuka’s mission for SLW Institute of Music is to inculcate and motivate gifted musicians to enhance their inner music artistry and allow them to expand on their music knowledge while his vision is to build a platform unlike no other where everyone is free to be as creative and expressive as they want while becoming a bridge that will lead the future musicians to greater success in the wonderful world of music.

While paving his way to establish his business as the most unique Institute in the island, Shenuka would like to, first and foremost, thank his parents for supporting him by getting him to explore his musical avenues. He would like to thank all his teachers for their contribution as well as his compassionate friends for always believing in him and hyping him up whenever he doesn’t feel his best. He would also like to convey thanks to those who least believed in him as that’s what pushed him to work harder, achieve his goals and climb to the position he stands today.

This accomplished musical prodigy has some blissful advice for those of you who aspire to make your dreams a reality:
“ You have to keep doing what you’re doing; follow your passion, but don’t forget that consistency is key. If you give up in the middle of your journey, then you will lose everything you worked for. Now, if you’ve invested a year’s time on your dream, then be patient. Your day will come- it may be tomorrow or even in another five years, but that’s how it is. Keep working hard and take whatever risk that comes your way because without a risk, there’s no reward”. 


Shavinya Illankoon

I am an independent solo artist that debuted last October. I write lyrics, make my own music and collaborate with fresh and talented producers. I focus on themes such as Mental Health and psychological aspects of people in order to provide a voice to them and to let them know that we're all in this together and they are not alone.


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