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I am an Indian, and I want to learn western music/singing, but my teacher says first you have to learn harmonium to learn singing. So I am confused: should I learn harmonium, because as far as I know, harmonium is good for Indian classical, and I want to learn western singing. So what should i do?

I am also thinking of buying a musical instrument. So please clear my doubts on it with harmonium. I will buy either a harmonium or a guitar based on your answer.

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  • I'm not completely convinced that "country and western" is the type of singing you're after? However, a quick search suggests that neither Bob Wills, nor his Texas Playboys used harmonium regularly in their music. – DavidW Apr 16 at 6:01
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    @DavidW - seems there are two different sorts of music. There's Country, and there's Western... – Tim Apr 16 at 6:53
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Having an instrument like a harmonium or guitar while learning to sing is very helpful, but not necessary. It is helpful, because it can guide your pitch, giving you a sound to which to match your voice. It can also be used to provide accompaniment to your singing.

Keyboard instruments and guitar are perhaps the most common instruments to learn along with (western) singing, but the specific instrument is not so important; it's more important you have something that you enjoy hearing and playing.

Also, you need not learn another instrument before you learn to sing. Both can be learned together.

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The vast majority of Western music (played on many instruments) is based on 12tet tuning, which is rather different from traditional Indian tuning. I guess the harmonium comes into the second category. The guitar is in the first. And the guitar seems to be quite a prevalent accompanying instrument for Western music. The harmonium more so for Indian classical.

I'd suggest that the guitar is probably easier to get started on - attestation to thousands of beginners from the 60s onwards - although your teacher obviously has other views. Perhaps they only play harmonium, which would mean you could progress more quickly on that with their help. Being usually 'just tuned', it matches subtle differences in the intervals one might sing, making them sound 'more musical', whereas the guitar will produce some intervals which won't sound quite as musical to some ears.

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    From a quick read of the wikipedia article suggests that harmoniums are mostly made with the Western 12-note scale (and thus don't quite fit into traditional Indian music). So it may not be a complete disaster - it'd just be an organ-like keyboard instrument. – DavidW Apr 16 at 7:27

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