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Sitting Posture


Mridangam is the most authentic percussion instrument of India and an integral part of Indian music. The body of the instrument is made of jackwood shell and the layers of skin on the two heads are secured by means of a long un-tanned leather strap. The right head is called the Valan-thalai and the left one is called the Thoppi. Unlike most of the other instruments, Mridangam sounds better only with a trained hand. Therefore a beginner needs to be more patient and determined to practise before aspiring to perform.

Learning to play on the mridangam involves 3 stages.

The first stage is leaning the basic lessons. Lessons are arranged in Adi Tala (an eight-beat cycle), learning the drum syllables, getting to practise them as lessons meticulously in three distinct speeds where each  speed is double of the previous one at a steady tempo. Oral recitation of the drum syllables along with the tala executed with one’s hands is also an essential part of learning. 

The next stage is to learn Nadai and Thani avarthanam (pure percussion performance). Four main talas are taught – Adi, Rupakam, Misra Chaapu & Khanda Chaapu. When once the student is able to play Thani avarthanams independently in Adi Tala, other talas are taught.  Maintaining the given tempo with simple improvisations within the limits of the grammar of mridangam is important. Gati bedam or playing of Nadai variations (eg. Thisra Nadai) are also taught.

A lot of listening is a must. Tonal beauty, rhythmic control, energetic playing and aesthetic presentation are essential. Over a period of time the student should intuitively acquire the sense of proportion in presentation.

The final stage is to accompany a music concert as the mridangam artiste. A lot of practice and understanding the “dos & donts” are prerequisites to go through this stage. Stage experience, tuning and maintenance of the Mridangam on and off the stage are also of significance. More than anything else, upholding the artistic tradition, Guru Bhakthi, high thinking and a humble attitude together with a sharp Rhythm sense make a true mridangam artist. 

NAC-AEP Programmes

The National Arts Council has endorsed several special courses of alapana under the Arts Education Programme (NAC-AEP) and they are offered to all schools, JCs and polytechnic institutions in Singapore. These institutions may book the courses in advance.

Some of  NAC-AEP endorsed programmes in the recent past are given below:

Indian Music for Music students  (Suitable for MEP students)

Indian Music for Non-Music students

Bharata Kalanjali (Tribute to the Art of Dance)

Introduction to Indian Percussion - Part 1 

Concert Tradition

Evolution of Ragas

Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical Dance)

Confluence of South & North Indian Music (Jugal Bandhi)

Indian Folk Dance

Strings of India

Besides the above list, we offer customised workshops too.

We have conducted several workshops at JCs and schools such as RJC, YJC, ACJC,TJC, TKGS, SAJC, VJC, RGS, DHS, CHIJ (St Nicolas),MGS and many other schools since year 2000. 

Visit the following link for programme details: NAC-AEP

alapana Centre for Music and Dance, 375 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218122 & Block 684 #01-316 Race Course Road Singapore-210684

Tel: (65) 63963296      Mobile : (65) 98280418;  (65) 97968737           Email :welcome@alapana.org