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Beginners' Lessons - Before you begin

Before you begin your first lessons, you must be ready. For go through the Carnatic introductions (check the main page). When you have a basic understanding of the notes of Carnatic, it will help you sing better. Now, continue.

What you need
As you start
Notations used

You will need the following:

Things to think about as you start (especially for singers):

  1. Don't sing like a robot. You have to enjoy what you're doing. Music is fun!
  2. Don't strain your voice. If you can't get a note, sing it softly or shift your shruthi down. With regular practice you will be able to hit the higher notes more comfortably.
  3. Keep a steady speed. There's no need to rush. Don't try to think you have to get through everything quickly. Instead, do it slow, go through a little at a time, getting everything right. It's more important to be correct than it is to be fast.
  4. Sit up straight. Sit cross-legged on the floor and keep your back comfortable but straight. Hold your neck back, not sticking out, but relaxed. Rest your hands loosely on your thighs or knees.
  5. Now sing sa, pa, and high sa. Hold LONG notes and see that they match with the shruthi box. Your teacher will help you.
  6. Choose a raaga for your beginning exercises. They are usually sung in the raaga maayamaaLavagowLa, but some teachers use shankaraabharaNam or any other raaga that has 7 notes in its scale.
  7. When you sing, sing long. Hold each note as long as possible (kaarvai), holding your breath and singing "from your belly." Try to get the note smooth and even, without wavering. Try to hold it for as long as a minute.
  8. When you have practiced the lessons and know them well, sing them accurately (ask your teacher), you can sing them in akaaram. This is when you use the sound aaaa... instead of the notes sa ri ga ma pa da ni for your exercises.


In these lessons, a few symbols are used. Check the symbols page for more information, but a summary is below:

s = sa, r = ri, g = ga, m = ma, p = pa, d = da, n = ni

lowercase notes (s r g m p d n) = notes in normal (middle) octave

uppercase notes (S R G M P D N) = notes in upper (mEl, taara) octave

note + dot (s. r. g. m. p. d. n.) = notes in lower (keezh, mandra) octave

note + apostrophe (S' R' G' M' P' D' N') = notes in octave above upper (ati taara)

note + two dots (s.. r.. g.. m.. p.. d.. n..) = notes in octave below lower (anu mandra)

vertical bar (|) = taaLam division of drutam or anudrutam or laghu

double vertical bar (||) = end of one taaLa cycle

dash (-) = separation of phrases. You must sing so that each phrases is continuous and the notes are only split where the dashes occur.

Now begin by choosing a lesson:

Carnatic Lessons
Before you begin
Lesson 1: sarali varisai
Lesson 2: janTai varisai
Lesson 3: daaTu varisai
Lesson 4: mElstaayi varisai
Lesson 5: mandrastaayi varisai
Lesson 6: alankaaram
how to practice
download zipped audio
teaching music
download and print lessons
teachers list

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updated on 03/20/2009