I had my 1st sitar lesson today

So the day has come and today I attended my 1st ever sitar lesson. It was held at the cultural centre of the Indian embassy in Budapest.

I still have to digest all the things we did today, so here are some of my first impressions:

  • The finger pain (or numbness) is real (again). There are no wound strings and I used my 1st finger most of the time (sometimes the 2nd one as well).
  • I got my own mizrab (“pick”) from the teacher.
  • As I don’t have my own instrument, I used one belonging to the centre. This was the first time I’ve ever held a sitar in my hand so I have no idea how good the quality was. It sounded like a sitar to me.
  • There were 4 of us students. Apart from me, there was another sitar player and 2 flautists, one of whom played an Indian flute-like instrument the name of which I can’t remember.
  • I guess I’ll have to work the most on how to sit and hold the sitar properly and in a way that is both practical and comfortable.
  • The frets are tied to the neck and my thumb and 1st finger are opposite each other (kind of like when playing barre chords) so I don’t even have to think about peering over the fretboard to check where I’m playing.
  • I was quite surprised that I’ll have to play only the 1st string for melodies in at least 90% of the time. This is quite unusual compared to the guitar where we jump strings quite often.
  • As a consequence, I don’t have to play chords (I’m not sure if it’s even possible to play “regular” chords other than for the sake of droning away).
  • I found it really cool that we played together most of the time. If I remember correctly, we played an alap which was basically a scale and used the scale tones to play little improvisations. As I’m a total beginner, I stuck mostly to the scale tones in order and to a sort of rhythm where I strummed the playable drone strings and the melody string in alternation. Actually, this was my first time jamming with others. :slight_smile:
  • The past 3 years spent with Justin’s course paid off when it was my turn to improvise. I didn’t play any earth-shattering lightning-fast runs, but at least I remained in tune and kept the time most of the time. The teacher said that I seemed to take this new challenge pretty well.
  • However, the counting was like Chinese (or Hindu) to me with all the different patterns with different stressed beats (we used some tabla backing for our playing). I’ll have to work on that definitely.

I guess I’ll like this course, although it was a bit like having been put to the care of people speaking a language I could hardly understand. The teacher will send me some theoretical material as well so that I can catch up with the others.

To be continued next Friday. I’ll try to have a photo taken of me with the sitar in hand. :smiley:


Hey József that all sounds pretty cool and also that you did quite well for your first lesson by the sound of it. Just the look of a Sitar is intimidating to me but I do love the exotica sound. Look forward to not only pics but maybe a future AOVYP ?

Thanks for the share.


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Thanks for sharing Jozsef. Good on you following through on an interest and making the effort to attend a lesson on the instrument. If I remember correctly you have to travel a fair distance for the lessons. It all sounds very interesting both musically and culturally. Look forward to seeing a picture of you with the sitar and following your progress with the lessons.

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Sounds very cool Jozsef, the sitar has such a cool sound. I’ve actually whiled away quite some time to Ravi Shankar in younger days whilst under some, ahem, influences! :wink::joy:

It sounds like you’ve really got your mojo back which is awesome to read about! Again very happy for you :grin:

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Fascinating to hear about your experience. Reminds me of the Mohan Veena played by Harry Manx as it also has several layers of strings like the sitar. Harry plays an interesting genre of music, blues with an east Indian influence.

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Hey József that was a pretty cool story thanks for sharing! Looking forward where this exploration will take you in the future :wink:

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That is amazing! I hope to someday follow in your footsteps! Hmmm…how many sitars do you need? S+1?

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Wow, thanks for all the kind words :slight_smile:

Hi Tony,

Actually, I listened to his Wise and Otherwise album when you recommended it in another discussion. The mixing of the different musical traditions was quite engaging and the country blues cover of Foxy Lady was a nice surprise.

Well, I wouldn’t say I felt intimidated by the instrument. It was more like tasting an unknown food for the first time and hoping you would like it :slight_smile: The weight felt about the same as that of an acoustic guitar, but given the construction, the centre of mass falls close to the gourd, so carrying the sitar around will also require some practice. And of course, there’s no option to use a strap :smiley:

Yes, that’s right. I go to the classes directly from work as the route is somewhat shorter that way. The ride doesn’t take as long as I expected which is an added bonus.

Unfortunately (?) I don’t have any substances suitable for that purpose at hand :smiley: Yeah, I think I’m getting my mojo back by and by. I’m also curious how the new things I learn can be adapted to the guitar and vice versa.

You’re giving me ideas :joy: But before buying a sitar, I’d like to get accustomed to it at least to the degree that it won’t just collect dust because I don’t know what to do with it.

Just in case….

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It sounds very cool Jozsef and that you enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to seeing the picture of you with the sitar.

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Nice Jozsef,
I hear a Stones song coming up in my head :art: :black_large_square: :sunglasses: :smile:

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