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Doing school drills to the beats of the ‘chenda’



Rhythmic steps: Students of Pattiyamma Aided U.P. School at Karivellur performing mass drill to the beats of the ‘chenda’ at the school ground under the guidance of their physical training teacher K.S. Harimohanan.

Students of the Pattiyamma Aided U.P. School at Karivellur near Payyannur keep physically fit in a slightly different way. They do their mass drill to the beats of traditional percussion instruments like ‘maddalam’ and ‘chenda.’

It is the brainchild of K.S. Harimohanan, the school’s physical training teacher. A mridangam artiste hailing from Payyannur, he is also on a mission to popularise ‘Shivapala thalam,’ which he created and named after his late father, Nadanam Shivapalam, a Kathakali and Bharatanatyam artiste.

“Normally students participating in mass drills structure their performance to the full beat of band. I want to train the students to do the drill to the half beat in our instruments like ‘maddalam’ and ‘chenda,’” says Mr. Harimohanan.

Features of ‘thalam’

Recently there was a public performance of this unique drill by the students in connection with the school’s annual day function. ‘Shivapala thalam,’ Mr. Harimohanan explains, is unique because it is based on thirteen-and-a-half beats. He has already drawn attention in the circles of percussion artistes with his new ‘thalam.’

The ingenious mass drill was developed by blending physical movements of the students with the thirteen-and-a-half beats. The musical ambience at the programme also helps the students enjoy their physical training to the full, he says.

In short, this physical training teacher is making the most of the intricacies of traditional ‘thalams’ to make his students physically fit.

Mr. Harimohanan, who is fully dedicated to his experiment with the new ‘thala’ he created, claims that his ‘creation’ has already received approval from some of the well known percussion artistes in and outside the State.

Mohamed Nazeer

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