Learning To Play Punjabi Music: A Beginner's Guide

Whether your interest is in music as a pastime or a profession, as divine contemplation or purely pleasurable pop, this ...

There was a time when all Punjabi music was devotional, when musicians were born and not made. Today, sacred Sikh music is not unchanged, having found resonance with classical Hindustani rhythms, whilst also assimilating elements of popular and folk music. The ways in which Punjabi music has both absorbed and resisted outside influences have made it more accessible than ever, and led to the formation of other types of modern music of the Punjab. In fact, Punjabi Pop is the highest-performing genre for Punjabi music on streaming platform Spotify. Whether your interest is in music as a pastime or a profession, as divine contemplation or purely pleasurable pop, this beginners guide to playing will help get you started.

Finding Your Teacher

Finding a musical teacher used once to be similar to becoming a disciple. In modern times, the guru-chela relationship of music teacher to student has been replaced by institutionalized learning. Music is now taught in schools, at universities, and in institutions dedicated to musical study. Finding the right place to get started playing Punjabi music is a personal and also a practicable choice. The past few years have further changed the way we learn and are taught. During the pandemic, and continuing today, many industries shifted much of their activity online. It's now possible to find a teacher of Punjabi music who delivers online learning, which is an arguably safer choice for many. Music school locality guides are a good starting point for finding the right teacher.

Finding Your Instrument

The benefits of learning to play Punjabi music on guitar are many. It's versatile across a range of genres, and there are a wide range of instrument options, both locally and internationally. There's a lot to consider when shopping for a new guitar. If you're an absolute beginner you want to look for an inexpensive classical guitar that will be easy to manage. There are some good online buying guides where an expert in the industry gives their take on the types of guitars and their suitability for different purposes. Big-name international brands that are popular choices include Yamaha and Fender, both of which offer affordable entrance models of classical guitars. It's worth noting that Fender manufactures some of their guitars exclusively in the United States, these have a higher price point than the Fender models made elsewhere. Kadence, coming out of Bangalore, produces great local and affordable guitars for beginners.

Finding Your Style

Ultimately, your musical style can be as individual as you are, while still holding true to some of the fundamentals of Punjabi music. As with any skill, before you experiment you'll need to learn the basics. The old adage that the more things change the more they stay the same applies well to Punjabi music. While Punjabi music has stretched and swayed to accommodate modern influences and modes of expression, the essence of melody, rhythm, and even voice in music essentially remains unchanged over time. Learning to play Punjabi music still encompasses an element of prayer, even when played outside of the gurdwara.

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