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Course duration
12 week(s)
Max class size
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Playback singing has been an inseparable part of Indian culture since the advent of talkies in motion pictures. Playback singers have turned many unknown actors into overnight stars and have become the voice they are forever identified with. 

What does it take to become a playback singer?  Is it the voice? Or the expression? Or the skill with Sur and Laya? Or creativity? It is all this and much more. 

This course will help the student decode what it takes to be a good playback singer and get an understanding and attain knowledge of the nuances. 

This is a course that will be personalized for each student - it will help the student identify their strengths and weaknesses as a singer and how to leverage those strengths or overcome those weaknesses. 

Students will also learn how to understand and analyse the vision of the music director and to bring their own creativity to any song. 

At the end of this course, if selected, students will also record a song (this would be an existing song with new lyrics), arranged and produced by Shankar Mahadevan Academy. The single will carry the student’s name in credits and will be available for the Shankar Mahadevan Academy to use it in any way that will popularize the song without any financial obligations to the student or singer.

ONLY Students who score above 90% in their end class evaluation which will be done by the teacher, will be given the opportunity to present their song to Shankar Mahadevan. 

Course Format

This course consists of 12 sessions that will be conducted online over live, interactive classes with Shankar Mahadevan Academy’s qualified teachers 

Each session will be 45 minutes long

  • Sessions 1 to 7 will be held once a week.

    These sessions include an introduction to various nuances of playback singing such as the process to breakdown and analyze a song using examples of a few popular film songs. The vision of the composer is also a vital component to be included while singing and is explained in detail. Furthermore, as a background to prepare the student for studio recording in the later sessions, the theory behind setting up a studio and the common studio audio equipment and software used is elucidated. 

  • Session 8,9, 10 and 11 cover studio recordings and may be combined based on the need for longer class durations. These sessions will be scheduled based on the studio timings and availability. Students are responsible to find their studios and confirm availability with the Academy. Alternatively, they can set up a home studio and record their sessions. Check out the equipment required for a homestudio set up here
  • Session 12 will be a group session where you and other students will present your single to a senior faculty member
  • Select students will present their songs to Shankar Mahadevan. This will be done based on the recommendation of a panel of judges. Your final recording will be considered as submission for the selection. 


This course aims to:

  • Introduce the student to various aspects and qualities associated with a good playback singer.
  • Teach recording techniques like, gauging distance between mouth and mic, usage of dynamics, breathing techniques and much more 
  • Introduce the basics of recording setup and the know how of setting up a home studio
  • Help the student identify their strengths and weaknesses as a singer and work with them.

The course is designed for singers who have a good knowledge of Sur (melody), Taal (rhythm), Dynamics, Expressions. Students aspiring to qualify for this course should be able to sing a song in a way that expresses your creativity and at the same time maintains the beauty and emotion of the original (if the song is a cover). Please note that we are looking for a voice that is unique and a singer skillful enough to master the song that is produced for them. 

Students who apply must be 16 years or older at the time of enrolment.  

Upload two  recordings of  2mins or more with a Tanpura / basic pad and Click / Metronome. 

  • One song must be in a genre in an area that is in the strength of the student.
  • The other song should be like a self challenging song which the student wishes to explore and improve upon.

Vocal processing and any digital alteration is strictly prohibited and will be disqualified, even if it is found post assessment of the prerequisite .

Vision of the Composer
  • Studio Recording Clips
Home Studio Setup
  • Types Of Mics
  • Home Studio Setup Equipments
Studio Recording
  • Input Volume, Distance from Mic (wo pop filter)
  • Recording with a pop filter
  • Punching Vocals
  • Double Track
Evaluation Rubrics for Selection in PBS
  • Song 1
  • Song 2

At the end of the student will be able to:

  • Analyze a composition and understand the vision of the composer or music director.
  • Interpret a song in his/her own way
  • Work out tactics that help play to his/her strengths or to overcome his/her weakness
  • Record a song (an existing song with new lyrics) produced to be  promoted by Shankar Mahadevan Academy
  • Present their single to a senior faculty member in a group session.