If we can identify what you would like to have that you don’t have yet – errors, additions, next steps – we can plan to solve towards them through content and corrections and this method will work for you to reach your goals.
Questions: email@example.com (usually answered within 36 hours)
Learn with me:
- get access to all ragacourses content available to you 24/7 (Indian guitar, rhythm & chords, geethams, private tutorials)
- + individual corrections to your playing, custom content next steps to practice
- + group calls or 1-1 calls.
It’s not your fault if you have tried learning to play the guitar using generic exercises, unfamiliar songs and quit. We use Indian music, songs familiar to you. That helps you build the feedback loop needed for musicianship: how you are playing, compared to how it is meant to sound. This error gap is corrected using deliberate practice. Build that loss function 🙂
Systems thinking The secret is in the underlying mechanics. A song, a well executed performance you see is just a screenshot. The real learning is beneath the tip of the visible berg.
Often that part is kept hidden from you. You are just asked to look and remember and repeat. That keeps you dependent. That also keeps your playing mediocre regardless of if you play 10 or 100 songs.
We will stop that. Just take 2 songs, learn the principles of connectedness, sustain. Learn the logical fretboard relations to your advantage. Know that ‘advanced’ is just the basics well executed.
Youtube whirlpool Start with a video, waste time with no progress to show. Not sure what to follow, what is the next step. What is the specific practice for you, from where you are skillwise to your individual needs.
You could be a beginner or been playing for sometime. You want to play Indian music on the guitar: songs fluent like it is sung or rhythm & chords, chord melody…
Learn to play the guitar playing towards what you are familiar with, what made you interested in music in the first place, what you really want to play finally.
You have watched my videos and found them useful/interesting. You want to get to the next step:
- benefit from clear corrections & practice steps
- guidance on what exactly to practice
- to be able to play what you like, without wasting time, money and effort.
We do it using Calls, group calls, membership content, recorded content and practice videos, chat guidance, corrections. (details below)
Which topics can you learn?
Any topic that brought you to me. (see sample list below)
I will be personally telling you what you as an individual need to be practising to reach your unique goals based on your current skill level.
So, there is always discussion and deciding a learning path specific to you. It is not a set of recorded videos, trying to fit you into a generic set of courses.
Your interest could be:
– Indian style raga or film songs fluently like it is sung
– Rhythm and chords
– Fingerstyle and Chord Melody
– finding notes and chords on your own
– singing while playing rhythm
… or any other combinations and specific interest that you want to learn from me.
Once you join we will discuss and decide your personal curriculum. I will give you content, watch your practice videos and give corrections, tell you exactly what points to practice, the next steps.
This is how we do it:
As you join, you will get immediate access to the membership content: Indian Guitar, Rhythm Chord Fundamentals, Carnatic Geethams, Chord Code etc.
I will be asking your specific goals: is it playing songs, playing chords or other skills? Which particular songs? What is success for you in the next 3 months?
Knowing your current skills: Any particular songs you have already tried? Send me a practice video.
Just starting? You will be given the basic steps you need to practice so that you can send me a video.
Next steps: From your video and based on your goals, we will decide our route, the next steps.
We may choose a song or two as learning material. While playing it you will be learning the underlying skills, the techniques and mechanics that you can use on other songs too. Songs are just tools, we use them to understand the errors we make, where we should correct: error oriented deliberate practice.
You get content, You send me corrections and doubts
videos, tabs, audio, text chat…
Hari Krish, California USA
Maddela Avinash, San Jose, CA
Balaji Venkatesan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Can this really be done? How?
What do you think?
Do you believe I will be able to point out the corrections and tell you the next steps if I watch a practice video from you?
Say, we choose a song to practice. I give you the tutorial. You send me the first two lines of the song with mistakes and doubts, the way you can.
Will I be able to tell you the fingering corrections you can make? What changes to make the sound more fluent, sustained connected? Or do you think I will be able to do it only if I am face to face in person with you or if we do real time 1-1 corrections at an odd hour? 🙂
You know the answer.
In traditional vocal classes I used to attend, we would sit in a group, when it was the students turn, we would sing, the teacher will correct and tell us what next to do. It takes 7 minutes. More discussion or singing wouldn’t add any value.
Similarly, get to error oriented deliberate practice. Guitar playing is transformational not just information. Get what you need to practice, practice, come back and ask for the next.
Group calls are used by students to ask doubts, show their progress to me and the group. You also get to listen to other questions and answers, what others are doing. Students started liking the performance in the group, since it gave them more real life practice playing before others.
A specialist guide 🙂
My name is Shyam. I have a BTech from the IIT Madras. I am good with learning & teaching fields including using technology to bring best outcomes.
Started playing our specific style of guitar 3 decades back when I was 11 years old.
Been teaching formally at least for around 1.5 decades.
I have the ability to analyze, sort and build frameworks that you will benefit from. That is what I have done here for you, to your benefit.
Through access to me, you will have clarity on what exactly to do out of the numerous different possibilities. You will know exactly what to correct and do next.
1-1 time options are reduced because of composing, arranging and other core work. The quality of our instruction is kept high by making sure we go from where you are in skill level to exact outcomes you need. No compromise. 🙂
choose your option
Course content access
Students only Facebook Group
(25 minutes each)
Text guidance with Shyam
Submit for corrections,
get doubts cleared,
Submit for corrections,
get doubts cleared,
4 times a month
Send me email:
Submit for corrections,
get doubts cleared,
8 times a month
1 call each month
Always on Skype text chat
Cancel or Pause anytime using the button in your profile. Once you join, you have immediate access to the courses. You will get an email from me asking for details, call timing etc. If you have already benefitted from my youtube videos, the amount you spend on a month of coaching is a no-brainer.
The $29 option may not be open at all times. If interested, join when it is available.
New song tutorial requests: as a student you can give me a list. Evergreens songs 10 years or older preferred. I make tutorials based on interest and educational value. $49 or up plans are better, since lower plans may not be manageable from high numbers.
TRY IT FIRST If you haven’t tried my teaching/learning method, it is unlikely that you will know how much you will benefit. That’s why it is better to try the method.
Use one of the options above. Get access to the core content bundles. Send me a practice video, see the comparison of what you are doing and how much better you can do. Know exactly what to practice. Then… you can decide if the method works for your or not. And if it doesn’t work, get your refund or discontinue. Usually the membership content alone is worth the money you spend. In addition to that you will know what is expected of you when you want to improve your playing. On top of that you get the exact steps from me… PLUS no question asked refund.
I guarantee detailed intrinsic improvement to your playing and outcomes that you want as long as you work with me and progress according to our path and corrections.
Anytime within the first 10 days if you don’t wish to continue, I will give you a complete refund. We are anyway connected on Skype and email.
I myself will urge you to take a refund if I understand I am not the right person for you.
Below are some examples: Beginner path, Indian guitar fluency, Rhythm and Chord, Finding notes and chords on your own.
Learn the steps, subskills, phases. Once you join we will discuss your best path.
So that whatever time, energy and money you spend on learning to play the guitar will be put to the best use possible.
Beginner wants to learn it right
Indian guitar fluency corrections
Rhythm chord mastery paths
Finding notes and chords freedom
These are the mistakes you need to correct
Beginner or been playing for sometime,
there are only basics and subskills that we need to get better at and fluent with.
Keeping on practising won’t make your playing better.
Correct notes is just a very small part of playing well.
Then what are the underlying mistakes or corrections you need to make?
A few categories of interest and the learner path or usual mistakes below. Use them the next time you consider practice.
- Hitting the wrong string, basic familiarity problems
- real solutions: being aware of the finger and wrist positions, correct positioning of the guitar, knowing that sustained notes is the aim
- press and hit one note on one string, Try a second note with a different finger. Try sustaining the first note till the second is sound, with no gap in between.
- practice the C major scale open position. Don’t try too many things, also don’t get stuck with single string exercises from grade books.
- once you can do the basics notes of the C major scale, we need to correct for up and down strokes, connectedness, remembering the notes better, write finger usage, finger efficiency like keeping close to fretboard etc, keeping wrist etc as needed.
Without underlying corrections, just trying more exercises will not help you. It can make you frustrated and make the student quit altogether believing they are not talented.
What if we all quit writing because we couldn’t do it in a week and believed we are not talented at writing.
Indian style guitar: been playing for sometime, need fluency
- even after playing for years, there are players who can’t connect the notes. They are also not aware that the problem is in the connection and sustain
- do connection exercises to better you hit and press sync. that is the underlying reason, which is not obvious
- it also means better use of fingers, keeping them closer to fretboard, prepration, wrist angle etc
- special problems, like playing higher number frets – wrist angle has to be corrected – the knuckles are no more parallel to the fretboard.
- phrasing and fingering logic has to be planned using tuning relationship knowledge, preemptive thinking to start with appropriate finger that will help the notes to come. Not just what is currently convenient.
- memorization, preparation, reducing delays at a phrase level, word and sentence level.
- project management – knowing what to finish first, gain momentum,
- knowing what parts of the song are at what skill level. For example: the vocal part and the very end lead of Ilayanila is at an easier skill level than the interludes. I suggest my students to finish the vocal parts first, submit a video on that with mistakes, then correct them, make a final video as benchmark, before trying the interludes – else the mixture of skill need will unnecessarily prolong progress.
- be able to simplify the versions as needed to remove bottle necks for a first draft performance version.
- again, just repeating the notes will not take care of the gaps and underlying problems.
Rhythm and chord beginning
- If you are just beginning, using the open chords, learn how to optimize your moves – which groups of fingers, which finger minimal move, keeping them close to fretboard and prepared, the function of the thumb etc.
- If you already know 10 or 100 chords, know that there are only 3 chord patterns from which all of them can be derived. The pre internet chord teaching businesses took a look and repeat database kind of approach, blindly giving you the same chord patterns starting from different positions and calling them all new chords. Be smart – know the patterns.
- from open chords, free up the index finger, start playing the open chords without the index finger. this prepares you to play barre chords
- the only three chord patterns from the open chord position, transfer and start playing barre chords. the 6th and 1st have to be taken care of first. the remaining fingers have to learn to move in groups etc
- optimization comes from rotation move of the wrist, preparation of fingers, group movement etc. If not aware, those things won’t get optimized
- See the section on Indian guitar fluency above.
Remember that it is not about just somehow playing the notes. You need to think through your phrases, optimizing your fingering and phrasing, in order to play fluently.
IN addition, for carnatic interest:
- be able to identify S R1 R2 etc
- demonstrate it on the fretboard
- demonstrate the variable nature of S r etc. Meaning, if G is Sa, then… what is R1 when A# is Sa, what is Pa etc
- Knowing the slide rules, arohana and avarohana of the song you intend to learn
- parse through swaras, identify aro or avaro, place slide rule for EACH swara
- be able to connect swaras to phrases, phrases to sentences and to the whole song
- explain the difference between the swaras and sahithya/lyrics version – what does it mean to absorb swaras into the vowels?
- be able to arrange the difference of versions properly to execute the lyrics version
- be able to simplify the versions as needed to remove bottle necks for a first draft performance version.
Remember that learning different raga phrases have no practical value. You could as well be learning different song lines.
IN fact songs are good raga sources these days.
Finding notes on your own
- is trial and error which can be made faster by deliberate exercises and collecting a library of errors and corrections.
- do you already play a song? try starting it from a different place on the same string and next exercise, start from a different string. The errors be corrected by ear. This gives you something that you are familiar with to work on without having the overwhelm of having to start from a blank slate and find notes
- scale information, guessing notes before playing etc are all useful exercises
- but the best is – attempting new songs, getting feedback on them, knowing what the difference was.
Finding chords on your own
- the macro method is by family of chords – you need to know that
- but the way you have seen me do on my videos is, by phrase by phrase chord finding. Take notes of the phrase, find possible chords
- this doesn’t depend on progression or scale or any presets
- it does need us to slowly get better at pattern recognition – which our brains are good at
- For example when I see a phrase with C D and E notes in it, the following chord options occur to me Am, C, FM7, Cadd9
- Notes CBGE? C major 7th occurs to me. How? Phrases, recoginizing the possible chords from the given phrase notes. Getting better at it.
- Next time you want to find chords, start with identifying the notes of the song or the phrase and go phrase by phrase
Rhythm chord mastery
possibilities are endless. my students play variations that I am not comfortable with. Master guitarists find some of my methods uncomfortable to execute. beyond a level, our bodies and minds have personal choices.
- fluency in rhythm hand up down movement. automation
- chord hand mutings for accent
- better fluency in chords. optimized body moves
at this stage, the student benefits from overall ways of thinking, optimizing. New songs, new rhythms, as needed.
Sing and rhythm
This is of particular interest to me. These are the problem areas:
- songs don’t always start on the downbeat. Can you identify the offset, start the downbeat and sing where the song is meant to start?
- lines end before rhythm ends. You need to extend the rhythm playing till the next line comes. You can’t start where the words end.
- Words to the next line start before the downstroke of the next rhythm section. You need to adjust the beginning syllables and match the downstroke to the right syllable.
- vowels absorb rhythms without syllables. master the ability to keep playing rhythm undisturbed, though the syllable has ended, vowels continue.
A much requested for skill. When practiced properly with sub skills, doable. Else, always a sore point of confusion. Easily noticed by the player and audience.
Fingerstyle and chord melody
usual mistake – trying too many patterns or songs, without realizing that the real skill is teaching the plucking fingers to find and play the right strings without thinking.
Use one pattern instead. I have share before the video on TIMI RIMI
Chord melody involves series of Chord + note + note +…
Practice that structure maintaining best practices on plucking and chord hand.
To find chord melodies, we need to reduce melodies to open strings. this will take some trial and error and help.
Then identify by pattern chords for those notes.
Arrange them as physically playable positions.
Execute. Listen, correct. Repeat.
How to practice
How long doesn’t matter. Whatever stage you are at, recognize what is missing from the ideal execution. Move 1% towards it.
Doesn’t matter how much time. Error oriented, deliberate practice.
Measure for consistency. Can you do 5/10 times right? Go to 8/10 and that is enough for practice.
How long will it take you to master?
We won’t know even if we can assess your current skill.
BUT… we will know that whatever time and effort is put in, you are making the best use of it
because you are directly looking at the errors, know what exactly to change and moving towards becoming better at it than you were before.
INstead if we divide practice time by just random time divisions, we are not concentrating on the real corrections, there is no measure, there is no improvement.
Song or whatever you are playing, chunk it down and use it as a tool to improve your skill, vertically. Then you can expand your repertoire horizontally as much as you wish.
Components of our method:
1. Chat guidance. Anytime get answers.
Real examples below:
and I reply with the correct next step for the specific skills and goals along with any necessary content snippet to practice and learn.
– or audio –
– Custom content and private tutorials
Notice, how smoothly it works asynchronous?
– Video practice submissions and corrections
To paraphrase Rumi:
“Be grateful for each mistake,
since each has been sent
as a guide to our progress.”
Send me a video like this (informal, imperfect)
and you get a video correction and next steps from me
(informal, in my natural environment : ))
Shankar, an engineer from California says:
Avinash, another engineer from California says about why video recording corrections method works:
2. Clarity 1-1 real time calls
A student says:
I accidentally ran into Shyam’s free youtube lessons and subscribed to them. I was pleasantly surprised to received more foundation videos and guidance from Shyam’s team without charging a penny.
I joined Shyam’s music learning portal. In less than 2 months, I was learning to play film songs, geethams and even a keerthanai alai payudhe. This is more progress than i have ever made in the several years of trying to figure things out myself or trying to learn from other resources.
Shyam is a gifted musician and a teacher who knows precisely how to teach indian music on guitar in such a way that anyone with interest can start making progress very quickly. I am truly delighted to have started this musical journey through ragacourses.com and becoming a student of Shyam Monk.
– Sarvesh, San Jose, California
5. Group calls. We all benefit
You are in good company
These are small groups – essentially you get 1-1 kind of doubt clearance and guidance without the time fix hassles + learning from other answers.
I was not a group call kind of person.
Once I started it though, I started seeing how everyone benefitted
– the quality of interaction between the group members
– others benefitting from one persons question answer
– exchange of content… Beautiful
6. Ragacourse membership access for FREE
I have been playing for 3 decades.
Been teaching formally for atleast 1.5 decades.
I am good with analysis, frameworks, product development.
I have condensed my years of expertise to core video content that is basic requirement for our styles of playing.
You can use them at your pace – no need to pay 1-1 money. You have me to ask doubts and get corrections.
Topics in the membership vault include:
First touch – the very beginnings
Guitar basics that matter
Rhythm chord basics
Indian guitar first steps
Indian guitar skill growth
Rhythm Chord Mastery
Specializations and electives:
Sing + chords
Fingerstyle and chord melody
Finding chords on your own
This is in addition to the private tutorials and custom content you get as a student who interacts with me.
Manju was working intensely on finding notes on his own, a tough task. Now he has started his own youtube channel and is on his way to complete independence:
I thank my students for bringing me joy:
Why not just Skype classes?
You know the answer already by now.
What is the real goal? Challenge what has been told to be the way to do it. Use the power of internet and new options we have for deeper and surer learning.
With asynchronous methods:
No need to play in front of the screen at odd hours to adjust time zones.
No need to pay for 1 hour or 45 minutes spent on customary greetings, chit chat while the real practice material is just within 1 minute. (Don’t believe me? Spend some time analysing the structure of a skype class and you will know what I mean.)
No forgetting what was taught, not knowing what to practice. In 1-1 I always forget what I had to practice. The details are gone and I have no video or material to review as many times as I want. Why reduce learning to a memory test?
- Video students beat call students Students who pay $300 or $400 per month for real time Skype calls all started doing video submissions once they realized how the video based students were playing with more completion, developing their own feedback loops etc.
Video recording improves self assessment
Balaji, who is a 1-1 skype student since 5 years, who also does video corrections says about why video corrections are beneficial for even self assessment and correction:
Want outcomes? I will help you. Want to just hangout? Call a fixed time content provider. 🙂
Many rely on just skype calls because they haven’t understood yet how real learning happens. Guitar playing is not just about information – it is transformational – involves repetition, feedback, corrections, clarity.
Also, from the teachers’ side, it takes clarity and expertise to be able to make clear videos.
You should be paying only for outcomes, not for being available for a fixed time.
Your Learning progress has a GPS
And he thinks the following about our method:
If you are paying for only per hour real time classes (Problem):
- you miss out on the years of validated expertise and instruction condensed into core videos you can use at your own pace whenever your life permits.
- you don’t get the core knowledge you need, given in the videos, based on which you can build your individual needs and skills.
- you will be paying 1-1 money for standard instruction already available in videos.
- songs and other tutorials are already made and available – I do not wish to charge money to repeat it. Instead the student can go through the tutorials I give them, appropriate to their skill, show me what they have tried, ask any doubts or questions, get corrections where needed and get real outcomes.
- A lot of guitar and music instruction is common to any of us – not individual needs but what we need to learn about the music and the instrument. Learn it from the videos instead of wasting time and money. Then ask doubts and build upon what you have tried.
- you will be wasting time by reinventing the wheel. Instead go through available content in the videos and use the time with me to ask your individual doubts.
- you will be getting diluted corrections. The progress is in the corrections.
- you will have to adjust to the fixed timings, time zones. Recorded practice videos and corrections allow us to do it at our own time – not some job or time commitment we are forced to.
- you will have to wait to ask your doubts. Instead with me, use the text chat and ask me anytime you are stuck. You will get answers specifically for your need.
- you will miss out on videos submission: faster and surer progress is made when we can record our practice, including mistakes and problems. We save time, the content is clearer, I am able to give you better feedback and corrections.