Aarya Mehta gave herself the moniker of “Amazing Aarya” when she was a freshman in high school, contemplating starting her own YouTube channel for her music.
“I was alone in my room and I was thinking, ‘in order for others to feel and believe that there is something in me, I need to believe myself first that I am amazing,’” she says. “So that self-confidence, that’s where it comes from.”
Five years later, she is a digital music producer, music arranger, pianist, singer-songwriter, and music teacher who continues to make herself and others believe that she is amazing, as she is about to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Music Production from Berklee Online in roughly a quarter of the time it takes most students. While a majority of undergraduate students complete their degrees in four years, Aarya was able to do hers in one.
She began her musical journey at a very young age, which is key to her speedy matriculation through the bachelor’s program, as she was able to translate her life experiences into prior learning credits. Starting piano at the age of four, by the time Aarya was 10 she had completed the six-book Adult Piano Adventures series from Faber.
“I would wake up at 4 AM, before my parents,” she recalls, “I’d put headphones on so I wouldn’t disturb them, and before going to school, I’d practice for two hours in the morning, and then when I came back, I’d start practicing again.”
At the age of 12 she began to teach piano lessons and started to learn singing at the Pandit Jasraj Institute, an Indian Institute of singing located in New Jersey, not far from where she lives. By middle school Aarya was giving live performances and participating in competitions, but she wanted to be even more involved, so she approached her music teacher. That conversation led to her accompanying the school choir on piano; the choir she was already a part of.
“So not only did I take part in the school chorus program, but I also started accompanying this 150-plus-kid choir at just 12 years old,” she says. “That was a real motivation-booster for me.”
Aarya also passed 14 exams in advanced piano practical and music theory from Trinity College of London, many of which with merit and distinction. She has since encouraged many of her piano students to take exams for advanced piano and music theory certification, and all of them passed with distinction.
Aarya took her first Berklee Online course in 2021, when she was still a high school student. She enrolled in the degree program right after graduating from high school, and challenged herself to fast-track the process.
“Last semester I took eight courses at once,” she says. “There wasn’t a day where there wasn’t any workload, but I think just having time management, not procrastinating, finishing everything before it was due was important. And the time that I had left for me, just for myself, I would spend that to completely relax and meditate.”
The downside of taking so many classes at once (besides lack of sleep) is that it’s a bit harder to make time for friendships, but Aarya managed to make the most of her connections. “With the collaborations I’ve done with people for projects in Berklee, I know if I ever go up to those people again and ask them to record something for a track, they won’t say no,” she says. “They will be there.”
It is worth noting that previous collaborators include Sparsh Shah, who is also a Berklee Online student. However, they originally met outside of class, at a dance competition, years before either studied with Berklee Online. The connection led Aarya to begin studying with the Pandit Jasraj Institute and to the two collaborating on a couple of videos.
Her aspirations also include working as a music producer in the Hollywood and Bollywood film industries, but she eventually wants to create her own global music academy where she can teach young kids, and give them the same opportunity to learn music that she was presented with.
“My end goal is to bring it to people who can’t afford it,” she says.
It was conversation with her father on the way to a piano lesson about 10 years ago that planted this seed.
“My dad asked me two questions,” she says. “‘What is your purpose?’ And ‘what will you give back to the world in this life?’ … I decided that my purpose in life was to spread the gift of music to the world.”