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 ones 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
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.
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
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
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
Visit the following link for programme details: