Sinhala Guitar Lessons is a YouTube channel currently gaining rapid-fire success launched by Haritha Hareendra Wickramasinghe, a third-year electrical engineering student at the University of Peradeniya.
The YouTube channel, which is closing in on 100,000 subscribers, averaging on thousands of views, was launched in August 2018 and since then, the channel has established itself as the go-to spot for guitar tutorials conducted solely in Sinhala.
Haritha, who has had a formal musical education from a young age, shared that despite learning music since he was in third grade, his father’s interest in music and his curiosity in sharing his passion with his son was what got him involved and kept him going.
As a young student, he said that he learned the keyboard and took up the flute for his Ordinary Levels (O/Ls), however as the Advanced Level (A/L) rolled around, music was took the backseat. Nevertheless, after getting selected to university, his passion in music was reignited and he picked up a guitar for the first time in late 2016.
He said that prior to this, he hadn’t even touched a guitar; he decided to put to use his past music knowledge and learned how to play the guitar via some online resources. During his search for online resources, he found out that there are only two other YouTube channels that conduct guitar tutorials in Sinhalese – Asela Jayampathi and SL Guitar Lessons.
Haritha said that despite not having ever thought he would start a tutorial channel, being a novice himself, he wanted to contribute to the somewhat scarce content in this area of locally focused guitar lessons for people like himself looking for resources and to improve themselves, who may not have the luxury of spending money or time on classes. He wanted to share his knowledge and what he learned.
Despite his thinking, being a university student with minimal resources, he didn’t get around to actually releasing a video until a friend of his pushed him to one day; he recorded one of his first YouTube videos using his friend’s mobile phone.
He said that initially as he was uploading a few videos time and again, he had not received a lot of views, which was discouraging at times. However, after putting up his first tutorial, which was a little on the advanced side, he deiced to do a series where he shared lessons for beginners. To this day, his beginner lessons are the most popular and remain amongst the most viewed on his channel.
Haritha, who is also a physics tutor on the side, stated that what sets him apart from the other content available online can likely be attributed to his acumen for teaching. He said that once he understands something well, he takes pride in his ability to convey that knowledge to another.
He also expressed his utmost gratitude to his friend Thushara Makuloluwa who, according to Haritha, was the sole reason he was able to come this far with his channel, as he helped shoot the videos, going so far as to even hold lights, and create thumbnails and also some graphics for the content. He said that the support he received from friends like Thushara, his school and university friends, and his amazing family too, has been immeasurable as they have been his greatest strength. He made special mention of his dad, who has remained a driving force in his musical journey, even making a cameo appearance as he joined in on a cover video to sing; his mother and sister have also been incredibly supportive.
Haritha said that his time on YouTube has been turbulent at best, and while at first he was not looking to gain anything out of it, he has since been able to monetise his channel due to its growing popularity. However, due to Sri Lanka having very low opportunity for earning ad revenue, it is tough at times to stay motivated, especially considering how much time and effort goes into making his videos – six-seven filming, and then more time for editing. He also stated that he cannot simply outsource the editing as the lessons need to include comprehensive excerpts, which he himself must do.
Despite the challenges he faces, he said that with the feedback he gets, which is largely positive, he is encouraged to keep going. He added that he makes it a point to read every single comment on his videos and if there are any questions, he would most certainly reply. He said that many of his audience interacts with him via his Facebook and Instagram pages and he receives numerous messages requesting certain songs for which they would like tutorials; as and when time permits, he takes these suggestions into consideration.
If you yourself are a beginner or someone who has always dreamed of becoming a guitar player but never got around to it, then “Sinhala Guitar Lessons” is a great place to start and if you wish to clarify any doubts, you may have with regards to music and guitar in general, then Haritha is available on his Facebook page Sinhalaguitarlessons and Instagram page @haritha_hareendra.