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by His Holiness
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Harmonium Lesson


Hare Krishna Centre Leicester - Harmonium Lessons


Vaishnava Songs on the Harmonium - Easy to Learn
Harmonium Lessons - A Harmonium Home Study Course for Adults and Children - with Audio Features



Keyboard - Harmonium Lesson


How to play Harmonium


This book grew out of the practical need to find a method of teaching harmonium to children and adults who know little or nothing about musical notation. It is an easy-to-learn method with immediate results: learners using it will be able to play a Vaishnava song within 5-10 minutes.

In tutoring devotees in their homes, I have noticed that children and adults need some form of written record to remember the melodies they are learning. If this record is easy for them to understand, it gives them a sense of confidence because they know that they have this aide-mémoire for when the teacher has left. A beginner will then, with practice, quickly become familiar with the keys, and develop the skill I would call "musical memory". I have taught many adults who firmly believed they were "not musical", only to see them blissfully playing Vaishnava songs on the harmonium in a week.

You will find that the musical notation in this book is very easy to follow and requires no training in Western classical notation. It uses the Vedic musical notes SA, RE, GA, MA, PA, DHA and NI, referred to in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.12.47), among other scriptures:

sparsas tasyabhavaj jivah
svaro deha udahrta
usmanam indriyany ahur
antah-stha balam atmanah
svarah sapta viharena
bhavanti sma prajapateh



It is important for the learner who uses this book to be familiar with the Vaishnava song he or she wishes to learn and its melody. You will find the words to the songs at he end of this book. I have also produced audio recordings, as part of this course, for you to familiarise yourself with the melodies.

The first step in learning to play harmonium is to turn to the back of the book. You will find a page with SA, RE, GA, MA, PA, DHA and NI in small squares. Cut these out carefully. They are for you to glue or stick on to the appropriate keys of your harmonium. A diagram at the beginning of each Vaishnava song shows you which key is which.

The second step is to play the notes to the song as they are written down in the book without yet trying to sing along. Allocate a finger for each harmonium key that feels comfortable. Avoid crossing your fingers to reach the keys except via the thumb. Once you have a feel for the keys, try to sing along. If a note, say RE, comes two or three times consecutively in a line of a song (R R R), simply hold the RE key down for that time.

After playing the notes and singing along a few times, you will begin memorising certain parts of the song which repeat themselves. This is the third stage. Soon you will commit the whole song to memory. If you happen to then forget any part of a song, this book will serve as a reminder. The audio recording is essential for melodies that the student does not know. Though music depends a lot on individual perception and interpretation, I would encourage you, at least in the beginning, to keep to the notes I have given you in this book. Later, as you progress, you can make slight adaptations and create your own nuances to suit your style.

Please note that in these web pages only the NI flat (komol ni - N with a line under) is represented  by a small "n" in blue. All other flat notes are likewise written in small letters and appear in blue. These stand for any notes in the book with a line under which are displayed at the keyboard graphics. It was necessary due to the limitations of the HTML script.

Please print this page and cut up the images below, after which you can stick the appropriate notes on your harmonium keyboard. Please stick at first only those notes on your keyboard which are necessary for the particular song you are learning. This will provide clarity and will avoid unnecessary cluttering up your harmonium keys. Later, of course, you can place all the cut-outs on your keyboard. However, you will find that with some practice you will soon get used to finding the appropriate keys without the help of the cut-outs altogether. It is just a method to start you off by helping you to get used to the harmonium keyboard and to easily find the appropriate keys.

Notes for Harmonium Lesson

Notes for Harmonium Lesson

All what is left now is to wish you all success in your learning Vaishnava songs on the harmonium. Please feel free to give me any feedback on the method as well as on the web-site itself. The aim was to make available these easy to learn harmonium skills for an audience as widely as possible. The RealAudio sound files as well as their MP3 equivalents with the audio recordings of the songs are available on this server. Please visit these pages regularly, as this site is constantly updated and growing. There are many more Vaishnava songs, intricate Vrindavan tunes, Vaiyasakhi tunes, Aindra tunes und many others. An ever increasing collection of single tunes and famous melodies can be found at our Harmonium Tunes on Demand Library. Besides all, please tell your friends about this site. Thank you,- Hare Krishna.


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