alapana is your home of Indian Music and Dance.
            Home    Courses   Events   AEP   Misc   Contact


            home programs Mridangam course descriptions


Playing Techniques

The course explores through a detailed study of everything pertaining to the proper techniques of playing Mridangam right from the sitting posture and holding the instrument to the use of hands and fingers. The lessons contain drum syllables set to Adi talam, which is nothing but an 8-beat cycle of a steady rhythmic structure. This course is meant for all ages who are able to handle this instrument.

Students are taught appropriate limb/finger movements, use of wrist action, developing 'muscle-memory', significance of balance and coordination, hard/soft touch, sound-sensitivity and many more aspects.

The Regular course leads to examination (not compulsary) at 3 levels, Standard, Intermediate and Advanced. Playing techniques prepares a student to develop performing skills as a  Mridangam player mainly for solo performance, ensemble and as an accompaniment for concerts; the student may also apply the skills easily to become a percussionist for dance performances. The examination leads to certification.

alapana Mridangam classes are also offered as an ancillary subject in order to prepare a student of the other core classes such as Vocal, Veena, Violin or any other music subject and also for dance students.

Though these classes are predominantly performance-oriented, necessary elements of theory are certainly imparted.

Guru(Instructor): Mr V.Raghuraman

Print out a copy of basic lessons from a pdf file

Audio Sample of a   Typical Mohra-Korvai

Sample Video Lessons  :  1  2  3  4  5  6  7 

Oral Drum syllables

A few other steps :

  - Thangita Thakajonu

  - Tomtha Kukum Thakajonu

  ` Thaka Jonu , Thajonu

  ` Thom, Kitathaka Nam Thom Kitathaka

  ` Thadinginathom varieties 

  - Typical ending called "Mohra-Korvai' :


Drum syllables

Students are taught the various drum syllables used in South Indian music. In native terms, they are called the Jatis or Sol-Kattu or Konnakkol.

The drum syllables are in a way tongue-twisters. If these drum syllables are said orally with proper articulation and breath control, they sound great.

While learning them you get to know the execution of the tala (Rhythmic yardstick with hand gestures). The simple notated representation using English alphabets also improves one's Sight-reading abilities.

The 3 months' course that answers the question, "What we do on the drums can we do orally?" The student will learn important theory information and the practical application of reading in various styles. The course includes ear training, sight reading drill, and intricate tala exercises. The class assembles once a week for one hour of interactive learning and Towards the end of the course, there will be a performance-based project presentation by the participants.

Course leads to a certificate.
Guru(Instructor): Mr V.Raghuraman

Video sample  : Oral Drum syllables



Ensemble Workshops

These are performance-oriented classes that focus on group interaction, timekeeping, sound recognition, reading and understanding of notated version of ensemble scripts with stylistic interpretation. Students are taught notated  orchestral pieces after the basics of the Ragas contained in them is covered. This will improve their understanding and performance in a group.

Instructors: alapana teachers.



Studio Music Technique and Record-Your-Performance project

This course deals with the conditions of a studio workplace. Students are taught mic-sense and special attention to studio environment. There will be special emphasis to teach the presentation skills for best recording results. Includes trial recording and final project performance to audio record their own performance. Accompanying musicians will be arranged for recording.  alapana will record and cut an audio CD master of his/her performance.  Elementary video recording aspects may also be included. Students are also taught about the interaction of producer, songwriter, engineer, etc., in the music making process.

Guru(Instructor): Mr V.Raghuraman

Exposure to Percussion instruments of India for Drummers

This is a "hands on" course that introduces the drummer to a variety of hand percussion instruments of India in the classical stream. Students are taught the basics of Mridangam and  Tabla.  A secondary focus is on  Ghatam , Kanjira, Mohrsing, Dolak & Naal.

Students are taught basic techniques on various instruments in order to practise and perform with students of other genre. Undergo training to perform in ensemble settings. In the process they will also be able to grasp the elements of similarities and differences in North and South Indian percussion approach.

Guru(Instructor)s: Mr V.Raghuraman & an external Tabla teacher

Private Lessons

A one-on-one meeting once a week or at different frequencies with an instructor to work on the curriculum, trouble-shoot problem areas and offer an opportunity to evaluate the student's progress on an individual basis. The available subjects are Vocal music, Veena, Violin & Mridangam in Carnatic style, Tabla and Bharatanatyam dance. The venue will be alapana classrooms.

Instructors: alapana teachers

NAC-AEP School Programmes (applicable to Singapore schools)

The National Arts Council has endorsed 10 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 for the years 2009-10 and these programmes will be conducted at the respective schools of Singapore

List of  NAC-AEP endorsed programmes for 2009-10:

Indian Music for MEP 

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

Research topics on Indian Music for MEP

Strings of India

Besides the above list, we offer customised workshops too.

We have conducted several workshops at JCs and schools such as RJC, RGS, MGS, YJC, ACJC,TJC, TKGS since year 2000.. 

Visit the following link for programme details: NAC-AEP


Theory of Indian Music

The Theory class is a combination of lecture and demonstration to assure the student that he/she has acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the fundamentals of Indian Music theory. Topics covered are: History of Indian Music, Evolution of the Raga system, Development of musical instruments, Trinity of Carnatic music, Tala system, Pitch, Notation, Structure of compositions, Concert tradition, Glossary of terms, Do's & Dont's.

Guru (Instructor)s: Mrs R.Banumathy & Mr V.Raghuraman


Studio Recording Workshop

The Studio Recording Workshop is designed to give the student hands on experience inside a working alapana recording studio.

The course is currently under review for launch. (to be launched shortly)



logomini.gif (4947 bytes)

tha.jpg (214535 bytes)


Played with the four fingers falling flat on the inner skin of the Thoppi



thi.jpg (195507 bytes)


Played with the four fingers falling flat on the black patch of the Valanthalai



thom.jpg (214378 bytes)


Played with the four fingers striking at the side of the Thoppi such that the inner skin is free to vibrate.(The white paste at the centre is a small quantity semolina dough. Much of the bass 'Thom' sound is due to this) 


nam.jpg (199483 bytes)


Played with the index finger striking the outer layer of skin (Vettu Thattu) on the Valanthalai



ki.jpg (180139 bytes)


Played with the three fingers (other than the index finger) falling flat on the Sadam (black patch) on the Valanthalai



ta.jpg (197866 bytes)


Played with the the index finger falling sharp at the Sadam (black patch) on the Valanthalai



chapu.jpg (191585 bytes)


Played with the little finger with its tip firmly striking the periphery of the Sadam (black patch) at 9 o'clock position to obtain a string-like sound that denotes the pitch.


arai.jpg (192034 bytes)

Arai Chapu

Another type of Chapu played across the the Sadam (black patch) at almost 3 o'clock position.


krm.gif (37439 bytes)

Sitting posture

Sri Karaikudi R.Mani

Copyright 2006 alapana Centre for Music and Dance :: All rights reserved

375 Serangoon Road | Singapore 218122
Tel:  (65) 63963296 or (65) 98280418