Creator’s Journey #1: Learning the Six-Strings ft. Tanmay Bhadra
It’s 2022 and we are kickstarting this year with a new interview-series called the ‘Creator’s Journey’. In this series, I will be sitting down to chat with a bunch of creators as they share with me their journey of being a creator, the ups and downs in it, the fun parts and the mistakes to avoid in the craft.
We are starting of this series with a dear friend of mine and a very talented Guitar player — Tanmay Bhadra. Tanmay has been playing guitar for more than 7 years now and seeing him play Guitar, in real life, had me mesmerized. He’s got a beautiful voice and is a huge fan of Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth and All American Rejects. He’s been learning and playing songs for a long time now and very recently started an Instagram Page dedicated for his passion (Read along to find more about it).
I have witnessed him singing at school functions and playing at college events and when you see someone your age playing so well, I had the natural urge to try the Guitar myself and so I did buy one eventually during lockdown in 2020. Being unable to find myself a tutor nearby, I turned to YouTube and other online tutorials. Some did help while some made me strum the strings in frustration. It took me time to understand that I was learning directly from professionals on YouTube who have been practicing for 15–20 years. No matter how good their memory is, they probably don’t remember what it feels when they started off too. And that is when I decided to ask my friend Tanmay to guide me. I realised since his journey has been shorter but still has a lot of experience in it, he could lead me on — which is why I decided for the larger benefit of the society (particularly my audience), it would be cool to have him share his journey of being a Guitarist. He gladly welcomed the idea and so we sat down on a fine day and spoke about it…
When did you get your first Guitar and how did you feel back then?
I got my first guitar when I was about 12 or 13 years old. Back then, I always loved singing and thought doing so with a guitar would be much more fun! I just love the sound of guitar. My sister got me my first guiatr as a surprise and I loved it. I never left it alone then. You’d find me randomly strumming the strings (the typical thing people do when they play guitar for the first time — Strumming all the strings and placing your fingers in a random pattern on the frets and pretending to be some Rockstar). The guitar was large for my size back then but the feeling was something I would never forget and like to relieve again.
Did you have a tutor when you first started learning guitar?
Yes, I did have a tutor when I started out. My first guitar was actually a normal sized one… but since my hands were tiny my tutor asked me to get a tiny guitar 😂 So yes, I have 2 guitars as of now. I dropped out of guitar classes maybe around 9th grade because of studies but I would play by myself whenever possible.
What were the first three mistakes you made while playing the strings?
- Didn’t press on the frets properly so the sound wasn’t clear: That’s something I overcame by keeping my fingers slightly perpendicular to the frets so the tips of my fingers would press and the force would be enough.
- Fingers touching the lower strings such that they got muted: Common mistake which can be managed by simply keeping your hand in a claw like posture.
- Slow at reading the notes and finding them on the guitar: But yes eventually got over that by practicing. As you practice more, you just know where the notes are without even looking at the guitar!!
Now that you have been playing the guitar for 10 years, how has your practice schedule changed over time?
To be honest, my guitar practice-time decreased as I got into higher grades in school — in 11th and 12th grade, I hardly touched it but its now slowly increasing again now that I am in college and have a bit more time to pursue my passion. Though medical studies demand more time for reading, I manage to pull out some time for music. Also, we have a club in the college so that definitely helps me stay more connected. Initially when I was new to playing guitar, I used to practice 1.5–2 hours per day and now its just whenever I get time.. sometimes its 4 hours, sometimes its 15 minutes, depending on the free time I get.
When you decide to play or learn a song, what prerequisites do you have in mind?
Look , now days you find everything on the internet… the chords, the tabs etc. I just make sure I know the tune of the song so that I know when to exactly play the chords of the song and get an idea of the strumming pattern and ofcourse if I’m confused there’s youtube to help me out.
How important is singing along and foot-tapping while playing?
Regarding the singing along.. ehh not necessary. For me the song plays in the back of my head so I’m always on beat . Mostly I sing along though. I love singing. That’s my favorite hobby.
Foot tapping is a personal preference. I don’t do it. The music tempo is maintained in my head and reflected in my playing,
When you see a song you have never heard of before, do you try to simplify the chords/tabs on your own?
Haha, I’m new to that. I can’t instantly figure out the chords by myself. I take help from sources. If I dont have access to them, I’ll listen to the song multiple times and then try out different chords that match
How important is a metronome and capo for beginners? When did you feel the need for them the most?
Metronome.. umm I never used it. And capo has been a life savior for me 😂
I basically need to change the pitch of every song I sing as the songs in one’s range sound better. An alternative is that you can avoid playing certain chords like F, Bm etc if you aren’t comfortable with them initially. But I’d still suggest to try and learn those chords because you can’t always avoid them in all songs
Let’s do a rapid-fire round:
- Puck or fingers
2. 3 Favourite Chords
Em, C, G,
3. Tabs or chords
4. Guitar or Ukulele
Guitar. Actually I found out about ukulele in college and tried it out . It’s a petite and fun instrument to play but obviously I’d select guitar as it suits a variety of songs. I think ukulele is a really jolly instrument so playing emotional songs on it doesn’t suit like it does on guitar .
5. Chord practice or song practice
Chords practice… you can play any song if you have perfected your chords
What kind of songs do you play now?
I play whatever comes to my mind — be it any western pop song, bhajans, bollywood hits, R n B , pop-rock etc. My main go-to songs are western pop-rock songs.
Are you satisfied with were you are in your music journey now ? Like they say… do you think the journey is better than the destination?
Look, I’ve definitely grown over the years and am happy at the moment where I am but yes, I need to work more on my skills. There’s always room for improvement so I’m definitely going to keep on moving forward.
Ah Yes, the journey is always more memorable and exciting than the destination. For me, the destination is quite far away and the journey, in a way , has just begin and I’m really looking forward to it.
If you had to teach someone guitar someday, what would be your first advice?
Playing Guitar isn’t as easy as it seems, nor is it impossible to do so. You finger tips will pain at the beginning, you can frustrated when the chords don’t sound right, but the motive is to keep on practicing and moving forward because man, pain is gain and guitar is genuinely worth the pain!
What is the next big milestone you are reaching out for in your music journey?
I haven’t really thought about this yet.. but forming a band and performing at events would be dope. Performing in front of a large audience with everyone singing along is like a dream for me! Fingers crossed 🤞 Let’s see what the future holds for me!
Finally, where can people find you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram @tanmaybhadraa
Thank You so much Tanmay for sharing your journey with us.
I have always found it more relatable while taking advice from someone who has more recently struggled through the same endeavour as me and so for that — Tanmay’s advice and his highlights on his own first mistakes and takeaways from his guitar-learning journey arrive as a boon for me and hopefully all of you too who read this through and are struggling with the six-stringed instrument.
As mentioned above you could get in touch with Tanmay over his Instagram handle and do support his Insta page dedicated to songs he sings and plays.
Did you ever start to learn a new skill you found too difficult to learn from professionals? How and where did you start off? Let’s discuss below in the comments.