Any time you have a question about online lessons with me, just mail me at: musicianself at gmail or using the contact form and you will get my reply within a day. For example you could tell me details about your needs and ask me how I would plan a learner path for you.
Want to be a better musician?
Here are a few reasons my students let me know as they started studying music with me:
- almost all of my students want to be able to play Indian raga or film songs the way it is sung and not as an approximation using disjoint hits, that mildly resemble the original.
- some have always wanted to study music as they were young. But they couldn’t due to family situations during childhood, later work and family life and now at 40 or 50, they have more time to dedicate to get better at something they have wanted to all their life. When I see how happy they are, finding songs by themselves, being able to play them, I have to ask again: why did you wait till now OR How were you able to wait till now and not be able to express all this, before?
- many of my students have had some favorite songs from their childhood, which had special memories associated with it, memory of their childhood and families… Now they have the time and resources to catch up, to find a safe and fast path that will allow them to be able to play that music that matters much to them, now with clear guidance, without wasting time, energy or other resources.
- after student life, some can now devote their time to music
- beginners who want to make sure they are not meandering… that they are going in the safest and most direct path towards musical independence and enjoyment
- friends, family, playing together, get-togethers, festivals… community, feeling of belonging, fun
- a hobby to keep them engaged in a productive manner now that they have more free time
- a better feeling about themselves, growing and learning and keeping themselves healthy and well
Think for a moment, for me…
why do you want to play music on the guitar? I want to play music on the guitar so that…
And why do you want that? So that… 🙂
Whatever your need be, there is a way you can find to get it satisfied as fast as possible while building a strong foundation of right playing and practice methods, all the needed techniques to free up your playing and ability as a musician.
Why do I teach music?
I ask a similar question myself to know the deeper reasons. Why did i keep practising music since my age of 11? It kept me in peace. I lived among chords 🙂 They kept me happy and made me feel that
It kept me in peace. I lived among chords 🙂 They kept me happy and made me feel that i was in good company.
I teach because I want to share a part of that heaven with you.
My students vary in age from 9 to 64 with varying levels of expertise, including absolute beginners who were yet to buy a guitar when they first met me.
Content Confusion vs Custom-made Clarity
Most probably you found me on the youtube through
- youtube.com/themusicianself (tutorials) or
- youtube.com/shyammonk (raga lead playing and singing my heart out through rearranged covers and own comps).
If you haven’t already seen the kind of tutorials I put up, I highly encourage you to please check them out so that you are convinced about
- the quality, detail, and depth of the free tutorial videos,
- the sincerity of my intentions
and see for yourself if am the kind who gives without feeling the need to hoard.
There is no scarcity of information these days. Youtube has answers to most of your music needs – contentwise. Confusion arises not from the lack of information, but since we are unable to decide for ourselves, which of these paths make sense to YOU.
Which musical learning path matters to you? Is in sync with your needs?
Do you have a lot of time and money to test and waste? Time to waste on methods and teachers or time better used with family or whatever you like to spend it on?
Or do you want someone with 20/20 hindsight from 25 years of playing, 1000s of hours of teaching, feedback from youtube tutorials ?
I provide clarity. Custom made clarity, for your specific needs. You need to do the work, but I guide you, and I confirm and ascertain which paths are the ones you should be taking, leaving no gap, no guess work between you and your goal.
You need to do the work, but I guide you, and I confirm and ascertain which paths are the ones you should be taking, leaving no gap, no guess work between you and your goal.
Accountability, going beyond the parrot
When I am included in your learning process, you start being more accountable.
When you see that we are clear about what you should do, you are surer with spending your time on that, and you see results.
Going beyond mimicking the sound, you start understanding why you are doing what while learning How to do it.
Clear techniques, assurance, knowing what to do… calm progress.
Don’t search in the dark, don’t wade in uncertainty, when you can get clear guidance now.
Start from where you are, with what you have
Learn music while learning to play what matters to you.
Here is an example learner path. Below it is a section on learning to play music on the guitar the way it is sung.
Karthik was already playing the guitar for some time before he wanted me to help him.
He was familiar with the notes of songs like Narumugaye and Nenjukkul Peythidum. He wanted to go beyond hitting notes to being able to play the way it was sung.
“That’s right, I want my guitar to sing“.
- Understand where to hit, where to slide, based on the kind of syllables.
- Learn to sustain your slides by keeping your finger-string-fretboard contact stable and optimum.
- Learn to use your finger resources better, thinking ahead and planning each phrase.
- Decide whether to go horizontal or vertical based on a few useful rules.
- Then while learning to play one of the songs you already know, we will go through some practical tips on actually how to execute some of the moves,
- reducing delays between phrases,
- listening to oneself and correcting based on feedback etc…”
“That is a good table of contents. I would also like to know why we are sliding where, the raga slide rules, how swaras and scales are connected, ragas and songs are connected etc…”
“That’s good. Like I said, where to slide, where to hit is often decided by the syllables – consonants, vowels, soft endings… – and then raga slide rules which you need to memorize, plus a few rules like repeating swaras – jhanta.
To understand the relation between scales and ragas, we can start with the major scale and connect it with Raga Shankarabharanam using slide rules, use the same slide rules to play Raga Mohanam Geetham Varaveena, while taking care of the ascend and descend rules.
We can also learn other scales and ragas with the major scale as reference. While doing this you will learn more about how the different scales and ragas differ from each other, how to translate swaras to songs or vice versa.”
“Ok. And what about playing melody and chords together… “
“Once you have an understanding of what melody is made up of, you can use the same understanding to pick notes from the melody to form chords.
While practising our songs and scales, we will let your ear work comfortably at trying to find notes, so that with my feedback you will slowly get better with the trial and error process of ear training – being able to find melodies on the guitar, based on what you hear.
When you know scales and how to pick chords from melody, you can start arranging them together in physically playable locations to start playing chord melody arrangements of songs you like.”
“Good. So, like you said, I will make a list of a few things I would like to finally be able to play, and share it with you through Google docs or Dropbox paper…”
“Thanks, see you soon :)”
Playing on the Guitar as it is Sung
If you want to go beyond just hitting notes and if you want to play Indian Raga and Film Music with details, the way it is sung, I will help you learn and practice the right techniques, methods and thinking needed.
- what are the three basic elements of technique needed to play Raga music fluently?
- how do you sequence them together without delays so that the song sounds the way it is meant to?
- best practices, fingering efficiency, the reasons…
- the micro details and feedback needed to get the sound right, teaching you the right path
- when needed: the theory behind the music, being able to understand Ragas, the rules behind Raga music, step by step introduction to different ragas as played on a western instrument.
Since one size doesn’t fit all…
… lessons with me are based on what you want to finally be able to play on the guitar, learning that which will give you the feeling of accomplishment, what interested you towards music and guitar in the first place; the kind of music you have inside you.
Why and How?
Isn’t it obvious that we should be finally playing what we want to play? Shouldn’t we be learning towards playing what we finally want to play or what interested us towards guitar?
It is possible for a teacher with a very thorough understanding of the field and good problem-solving abilities, to understand what you want to be able to finally, split the content into sections and build a music learning syllabus just for you.
This keeps you motivated since you know where you will end up (desired music playing skills). Each part of the journey is meaningful since you know that you are directly heading towards where you want to be, spending time, money and other resources on only that which is important to you and meant for you.
… the path is made from the goal
Based on your specific needs, we build a direct path from where you are to where you need to be which may not be possible with generic guitar methods.
- however advanced your final goal maybe, we divide it into manageable pieces of content
- exercises for best How-to-guitar are built into the content, while you practice what will lead you towards your final goals.
- You will learn the needed fingering skills, listen and correct skills, the right attitude, the micro details, timing details, playing techniques etc while moving towards the songs that you want to finally be able to play.
Santhosh was yet to buy a guitar when he met me first. He wanted to play Carnatic songs on the Guitar (remember how we always start with a goal? We practise towards what we finally want to play, what can make us happy when we are able to play it).
So I asked him “are you familiar with songs like Lambodara or Varaveena?”
“Yes, I have overheard my sisters learning those songs. I know the melody” and he starts to hum.
“Good, so we can start with that.”
During the first few classes we went through the C major chord, how to change two notes to get the Raga Mayamalavagowla scale, which is the basis of Raga Malahari, the Ragas for the first 4 geethams.
While he practised the scales, Santhosh got more and more familiar withthe instrument: hitting the right string while pressing at the right time, up and down striking, skipping one string, making one directional slides through 2 frets etc.
By now he was playing the first few phrases of Lambodara. Slow, but trying to be correct. Once he gets familiar with the phrases, he will try reduce the delay between them, consciously taking away any physical bottle necks – fingering or striking inefficiencies – and trying to match the sound from the instrument as he plays, to what he hears in his head.
There was a problem, though: I felt the progress could be better if he played something which he was even more familiar with. I heard him sing a lot of Tamil movie songs in between, during our meetings. I suggested that he could try one or two of those film songs, since he seemed to be definitely more used to them than the Carnatic songs.
He insisted on trying the Carnatic songs and requested that we try it for some time more. Of course, he has the right to try. He was polite, he had listened to my suggestion and accepted the possibility that he may fail, but wanted to try.
One more month of Carnatic and he switched to playing some older songs from the 1970s and 80s. It did turn out that he was able to make the Guitar sing better with those songs. Could be just a matter of familiarity.
Just finger technique won’t do. To play Indian raga and Film songs the way we play it, a memory of the tune should naturally move our fingers to move through the slides, between the notes, including delays or reducing delays based on the sound we hear in our mind. Static fingering exercises are of not much help. The earlier we are ready to make our muscles listen to our wish of a melody, the better. Because, the kind of music we are playing, has a lot of details in it that cannot be written down so easily, curves that are not accurately drawn on paper. Instead much easier when we struggle with patience to match the sound in our head and instrument.
As his ability got better through playing Film songs, Santhosh went back and easily played the Malahari geethams, then Varaveena and on to Alaipayuthe and other compositions. His guitar sang happily every after 🙂
Chords and Rhythm
If you are frustrated with learning endless number of chords without understanding that chords and scales are patterns, I am here to help and clear the field for you.
If you never understand the real nature of music, you could be just moving around in circles for ever trying to memorize more and more while you could be learning the whole thing in 1/12th or less time.
Doesn’t have to be the case. I will (I want to) show you how to start understanding the underlying patterns, making you an expert at chords, scales, chords from melody, finding chords for songs etc.
Of course it will take time to practise and become fast at the process, but once the path is clear to you, it is just a matter of time and practise. But that is much less time spent compared to learning methods which lack understanding of the real reasons.
An example response after one class with me:
“…whatever you taught me on the first class has changed the course of my guitar learning journey..it’s all starting to make sense now 🙂
I was so confused about my guitar abilities and the way i understand guitar patterns…i was even worried and thinking if i had to unlearn whatever i learned so far and start from the scratch to understand the entire concept with better clarity! Simple concepts like transposing…creating chord progression for any song from the notes…learning notes for every fret! I just realized i’m not lost and on the right track!
I truly value your lessons and love the way you make me find patterns.”
Write to me using the contact form above. We will set up a skype meeting. The first meeting is to listen to your needs and decide how to go further – no fees for the first informal meeting.
My name is Shyam. I started playing guitar and learning music at the age of 11. I got my BTech degree from IIT Madras (AIR 716). Been into music and other beauty making activities since…
Find my videos on Raga playing, Chords for ragas, Rhythm Guitar Singing etc at youtube.com/shyammonk and instruction videos at youtube.com/themusicianself. See for yourself if I am credible enough to help you with music and guitar 🙂
As mentioned, our classes are custom made for you, finding out what you really want to play, and learning How to play while playing what you finally want to play.
It is possible, by learning the right basic methods and thinking process which are necessary for you to play music well and with ease, on the guitar. The right methods are learnt while learning exactly what is most important to you. We will go through the process together.
Is this the right course for you?
You could be an absolute beginner, someone who has been playing for quite sometime or a professional with specific needs. Your experience or age does not matter.
What does matter is that you are really interested in practising music, wanting to learn the right methods that will help you learn and play music life long, with or without the need for a teacher.
We don’t know if we are a right fit?
Naturally till you start with me, there is no way for us to know if we are a good fit.
This is solved when 1) you mail me and I reply to your mail with possible solutions and 2) we meet for a few minutes over skype and discuss your needs, see what is best for you and decide how to go forward.
The two steps above will let you know how I approach your needs or problems and if my methods are useful for you. I can give you possible learner paths based on your needs.
Usual topics (expanded list)
We have together covered topics like:
indian raga music. carnatic south indian raga music style. raga playing techniques on the guitar: slides, hammer ons, pull offs – to be used for carnatic or hindustani – both the indian classical styles. indian movie songs. Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam/ Kannada/Hindi movie songs.
raga for chords, indian songs. chord theory – 3, 4, 5 or more note chords. improvisation and chords. playing simple and complex chords on the guitar. scale – chord relations. scales and chords on the guitar. Chords for Ilayaraja, ARRahman, Tamil, Telugu songs.
rhythm guitar: regular rhythms, example song rhythms, ? and other rhythms (padumanabha geetham, neeratha sama). singing while playing the guitar. Playing Tamil/Telugu song chords on the guitar, rhythm guitar while singing indian songs.
Shyam brought a new level of teaching on skype… when we started guitar lessons for our 12 year old daughter via skype, we were skeptical about the learning experience, interaction and mastery of the teacher… Now when I look back after more than a year of learning guitar from Shyam…. I can’t express how rewarding the experience was for our daughter…. Shyam’s teaching techniques, his calm and patient which is so perfect for learning via skype and not to mention his in-depth knowledge of the subject matter… Shyam taught our daughter Indian classical, Indian light music, movie songs, melodies to western….. It was a proud moment when our daughter performed on school talent shows and local events.Thank you to a wonderful guru, mentor and an excellent teacher…Best RegardsThe Krishnas (Boston, USA)
If you are not sure what to practice, how to practice, frustrated with a lack of progress, unsure about if this is the right thing for you etc, please know that probably almost anyone who meets with me will have to go through these issues at one time or the other.
The content could be anything that you will finally enjoy playing. We can still use them to learn the correct ‘How to’ that will unleash your playing powers!
Teacher vs self learning
You may have a specific need or you just want to get better with music in general.
The main difference between learning on your own and learning from a teacher is the fact that the teacher knows where you need to go and how to help you get there, letting you know what to be given importance to, which details to consider, avoiding trial and error labyrinths.
Usually someone decides to continue learning with me or continue to study with me:
- because the way we study is custom made for you, which means your learning is about to be faster, deeper with a good grasp of the logic and thinking behind what you are playing and how to. You can’t expect this is in a made for all learning method.
- because you get your problems solved by getting to the micro details of playing and musical thinking. (Yes, I did study at IIT and am pretty good with logic and problem solving 🙂 )
- because you learn how to play the guitar while understanding the why behind it, letting you start being independent in the long run.
- because you find out that I like teaching and that I am someone whom you may feel comfortable with as a human being too! Also, I am a bit tricky and may teach you a few things without you knowing that you were taught.
The First Meeting
If you are not clear about your needs, how to practice or what exactly to learn, it’s alright. Our first meeting is for that.
It is my job to understand your needs and suggest where to start or what to practice in a way convenient for you. We will try to find out what is best for you and how to go forward.
After our first meeting you can decide if learning with me will be useful for you or not. And once we decide to meet regularly, we will have good goals and work in a way that breaks up the practice into comfortable useful pieces that when put together will give you clear results.
If you are an absolute beginner, I am very happy to help you with the right ways of basic Guitar playing
- watching out for tension
- learning how to use all the available resources to our advantage
- being aware of useful fingering practises
- learning the useful basics that make sense.
We will talk about what you would finally like to play and try to use that content while learning ‘how to’ play well and correctly.
If you have already been playing for sometime
- I will listen to your needs
- what you would like to play and
- we will arrange our sessions so that you reach your goals the fastest and easiest way possible
- while acquiring skills that will help you learn independently and play life long.
Skype class – Is it effective?
Jayashankar C, Houston says:
I think our classes are going great.It is opening up an endless array of possibilities.Now i guess, i can gather the courage to look up at the chords of a song rather than looking up instructional lessons on how to play a song.I think i am growing now.
Most guitar classes are suited based on the instructors judgement rather than the student but i think our class is open to choices. It’s like we have an improvised class with a set of goals at the end of each lesson. Moreover you get the students attention at every moment of the class.
It’s that feeling that you have something to look forward to every weekend. Before even though i used to play, i hit the brick wall very often. But now it is a sort of new experiment all the time. The joy of finding those melody lines is a very good reason not to hit the brick walls again.
I think you are a very good teacher who has that innate patience to share the knowledge and above all always encouraging.
Thanks for all the lessons and motivation.
Duration, Fees, What is included
One class is 45 – 50 minutes in duration, although at times it may extend to an hour.
1,2,3 classes a month: USD 45 per class
4 classes a month: USD 150 (USD 30 reduced.)
When you work with me, we will be addressing your specific personal goals.
Generic course materials, books, methods, practice routines etc are not forced on you.
WHAT is it that is finally useful for you? From Day 1, we will be addressing it and finding ways on HOW to do it, while learning best practices specific to your needs and in general for playing guitar with ease.
Teaching music is more than about providing content, since what to play and how to play is already available in the form of videos and pdfs. For example themusicianself youtube channel already has how to and details about guitar playing, raga playing, indian film music playing etc.
This means that when we meet online for a class, we go through what you need to learn to meet your goals. Your learning is made easier with videos and content I can give you.
Even after the class, you will be able to use them to plan and prepare your practice. What you practise will be directly connected to what you finally want to play, based on your skill level, and slowly getting you better and better with the instrument, music and making you independent when it comes to practising music for life.
During the class we will deal with all the whys, hows, giving you feedback, correcting and introducing details, deciding the best paths for you based on your needs. After the class, you will know what you need to work till the next meeting. Videos and pdfs will assist you in your learning.
When you compare courses based on fees, you may want to make sure that you are actually getting what is useful for you and that your needs are addressed clearly and directly, within a fixed number of units. Else the feeling of ‘money saved’ is just an illusion. I know what I offer. :)’
You don’t need to pay the fees before the first meeting. We will meet once, make sure that it is useful for you and when we decide to continue, you can think of the process of transferring.
Payment through paypal or transfer methods – we will confirm this after the first class.
How often should we meet
One class every two weeks is good if you feel two weeks are needed to practise what is learnt in one class.
One class each week is more usual. It is useful especially if you want to make sure that you are playing as you are supposed to, clear your doubts and find motivated by meeting every week.
Our main aim is to learn in a way that will make you independent in studying and making music.
I am not just a content provider – I don’t just teach you what to play – that you can already probably find from Youtube or from one of my videos. I will help you to be free… using the How to of playing music with the right kind of support.
Sundar Krishnamurthy says:
When I decided to learn to play the guitar, I didn’t even consider Skype-based teaching. I was looking for someone who can teach Karnatic music on guitar but couldn’t find anyone in the US. Searching online, I stumbled upon Shyam’s website and decided to reach out.
Turned out to be a great move on my part! Shyam was willing to teach Karnatic music, especially on a guitar. He was willing to work with my schedule and the 12+ hr time difference without any problem. I wasn’t sure if Skype will help communicate the instructions, especially the frets to play, the techniques to use such as hits, pull-offs and slides, etc.
With the right camera and Internet connection**, it became quite easy to do. After over 18 months, I am still continuing to learn but have moved onto movie songs*. Shyam is persistent, detail oriented and above all patient and that makes learning that much more easier, and fun!
* Sundar uses swaras to play Indian songs, mainly classical based, using slides, hammer ons and pull-offs, giving him something satisfying to work with, trying to emulate the vocal movements on the guitar. **Tablet camera and wifi connections have worked fine, by positioning the camera appropriately when needed.
Playing lead on the guitar
Playing Indians songs and classical lead on the guitar
Playing chords on the guitar
Rhythm playing on guitar. Rhythm guitar on ghazal, Rhythm guitar on Carnatic Classical 5/8 6/8 changes, Rhythm Guitar on Carnatic Geetham 7/8
If you are a beginner, we will start with how to hold the guitar, basic chords, basic scale for the left hand and right hand movement, basic rhythm.
Then, it is better that we start practicing to play what you like. It could be a lead, chords for a song you like so that you can sing along, anything that will give you a final product that can be considered a desired goal.
It is better to learn the guitar by practicing towards a finished piece that you like playing on the guitar. I have helped students who wanted to play a specific song, or learn the guitar by learning a specific song.
Indian Classical Lead, Carnatic on guitar
Looking for a Carnatic on guitar Tutor?
The video below shows starting with the C major scale, basic lesson, and working up easily to start playing carnatic slides.
We will learn to play Carnatic on the guitar with standard tuning (no need to tune Sa pa sa or other alternative tunings, though you can copy the hammer on – pull off – slide phrases to any tuning you want.)
Here is a popular raga based Tamil song by Ilaiyaraja, with instruction on how to play it on the guitar using hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides.
We will start with C major scale, learn the basics of How to play correctly, move on to play Geetams, Swarajathi, Varnams … I will explain to you the good habits, slides Hammerons and Pull offs, string – fret – finger choices that will help you become fluent and independent at playing guitar in general, specifically Indian Classical on the guitar.
Here is an introductory video to Slides Hammer-ons and pull-offs
I will explain to you each movement (gamakas, slurs) using string and fret numbers, which finger to use etc… for each syllable
Prior knowledge of Carnatic is not expected, though your interest is naturally assumed. What we will learn will depend on your current skill. If you are new to guitar, we will learn what is good for guitar playing in general, while you are introduced to ways of playing Indian classical phrases. We will do it at a pace correct for you.
Sing and play the guitar
Being able to play rhythm on the guitar while singing a song, is a skill easier to master if you understand how the rhythm playing can be seen as division of time into equal intervals, and the singing as something you need to hook to constant train of rhythm, at the right time.
If this is a topic of interest to you, we an use specific methods to progress.
Basic Keyboard, Sequencer, Sound Engineering, Arranging, Production
What do you need to start recording your own singing, vocals and make good quality recordings that you can publish.
Recording, Mixing, Effects Explained
Keyboard programming or midi sequencing, VST instruments
Your specific needs with arranging, multi-track sequencing and basic sound engineering.
Sequencer Work flow – hire me for a class and i can help you sequence and make music with ease – save time and smoothen the work flow.
Arranging, arranging on sequencer
Who is this for? Good for vocalists and instrumentalists who want to produce their own songs. For keyboard programmers, composers, arrangers who want basic help with your projects. Get yourselves accustomed to the best ways.
Sound engineering, effects, sequencer work flow, computer producer, midi programming, vst instruments, setting up digital audio workstation, recording vocals, recording guitar, multi track choral effect with one singer…
Music Theory – e.g. Basics + Understanding Scales using Interval Naming
Music Theory for guitar (e.g. music theory for guitar – 5 related chords) – Chords and Scales – Indian raga related harmonizing
Understanding Indian Raga explained in Western Theory. e.g. Understanding Indian Raga Mayamalavagowla – Analysis, Comparison, Modes, Chords
After this you won’t need chord charts, you will know how to associate scales / ragas and chords and more.
You will be self sufficient in understanding how music works.
You will be able to do music with awareness, knowing what you are doing and why something works.
You will understand your instrument – guitar or keyboard or another – much better, being able to see patterns and using them for easy music making.
This is the stuff that will make you a better musician. This will make you independent with the understanding it gives you about how music works.