Do we need to play 14 carnatic geethams on guitar before we move on to playing keerthanas or kritis or varnams on the guitar?

Geethams are the simplest compositions in the carnatic tradition. When a student starts learning the south indian classical carnatic music as a singer or on an instrument, after the sets of very basic swara/note exercises, one starts learning Geethams, starting with the Raga Malahari Geetham Sree Gananatha (aka Lambodara, since that word is the repeating hook of the song – so many years back, and traditional song, they still knew what a hit song needed.)

I have learnt Carnatic singing with a few different teachers including one who got a Padmashri (She was missing for a few classes, and when asked she said: had to be somewhere, some award. And the student sitting next to me said “Padmashri” 🙂 ) None of them asked me to do the geethams beyond the kalyani one. They gave me either a varnam or a Krithi like Mahaganapathim to practice and never ever mentioned the need to practice the other geethams.

In fact the Padmashri teacher explicity told me that when i can do the bigger more detailed compositions, there is no need for me to teach you the Geethams.

See, the need, our goal, our skill… all matters.

The music is what we are after, not a pre given generic structure.

And… there is enough educational logic behind this too.

One of MY student’s mom is a carnatic teacher for 40+ years. She told his son, how it is always useful to have a popular Krithi to keep the motivation going, even when it can be beyond the skill level.

Kind of like Edward de Bono and the FIll up the blanks method. Or another way of looking at it is: this is where we want to be, this is where i am, let us fill up the gap with whatever needs to be learnt.

So the short answer is, no, you don’t need to do all the geethams before you do the next level compositions. on a side note, the number of geethams can be much higher than we usually see on the text books.

Do them each if you have interest in them!

An associated question is: can film songs replace the carnatic curriculum to learn raga music, raga on guitar or carnatic specifically on the guitar.