Social Role of a Percussion Music School

Oct 01, 2013 | Vol 5, Issue 4

Sopanam school of Panchavadyam situated at Valayamkulam, near Changaramkulam in Malappuram district of Kerala (India), is not just a training centre of traditional percussion instruments but also gaining momentum as a change maker in the society along with giving the much needed impetus to this performance art.

The upbeat Rhythm of Kerala is best reverberated through this traditional orchestration called Panchavadyam. Panchavadyam, an orchestration unique to Kerala is the harmonious synchronization of five musical instruments viz Edakka, Thimila, Madhalam, (percussion instruments) Kombu, (pipe), Elathalam (cymbals) and supported by a Conch. The word Panchavadyam is derived from “Pancha“ denotes  five and “Vadyam“ means Musical Instruments.  This unique musical performance is generally performed as part of temple processions, celebrations and other processions.

Efforts are required to nurture new talents in this indigenous musical tradition of Kerala. The work initiated by the Sopanam school of Panchavadyam under the leadership of Shri. Santhosh Alankode, situated at Valayamkulam, near Changaramkulam in Malappuram  district, Kerala (India)  in this regard is worth mentioning. It is not just a training centre of traditional percussion instruments but also gaining momentum as a change maker in the society along with giving the much needed impetus to this performance art.

The patron of the school, Santhosh Alankode is a connoisseur in the percussion instruments,  Thimila and Chenda.  Born into a family with musical lineage, with father and grandfather, being professionals in the ritual art Paana, Santhosh started learning at the age of five, and has been performing  for the past 25 years.  He started Sopanam School of Panchavadyam in 2010 December, with the objective not only to train students in traditional percussion, but also to be a part of developing their personality, culture and social well being.  Beginning with just 15 students,   with the immense support of the local people, the School has now transformed into a nurture land of many young budding talents in this field.

Into Limca Book of Records

The Panchavadyam performance held on 24/Dec/2011 with a total of 201 percussionists, found place in Limca Book of Records. According to Santhosh Alankode, it was a natural development that led to find a place in Limca records.  He was organizing a debut performance for the 101 trained students from his school. But for completing the orchestra of Panchavadyam, many more supporting artists were also required, so it happened in such a way that created Limca Record; with 201 artists and more than two hours. 

Their innovation in orchestra 'Vadya Sallapam' a synchronization of different instruments- Chenda, Thimila, Edakka, Elathalam and Sangh (Cronch) was successful and performed around 600 stages including temple festivals. Now the school is come under Sopanam Culturural & educational Trust, with Santhosh Alamkode as Chairman and ten other dignitaries in the managing committee. Apart from Santhosh, the main trainers (Guru-s) are Mayannur Mani Asan (Thimila), Chalissery Sundaran Nair (Madhalam), Kadavallur Shyam (Edakka), Kavallur Velayudhan (Kombu) and Alamkode Venu (Elathalam) . The duration of the course is from one year  three years.  Now with the third batch running, and around 370 students, between the age group 5-60 years, the school is organising performances all over South India. The institution now has a main centre at Valayamkulam and satellite training centres at Pazhanjhi, Thavanur, Harimangalam, Vellaloor etc.

Apart from efforts to nurture and preserve the tonal brilliance of Panchavadyam, Sopanam school of Panchavadyam is a much needed solution to the dearth of proper training centers in the locality as the school   offers training to students of the area without the discrimination of cast, religion or gender. 


At Kozhissyamgaattu  temple premise, Valayamkulam, in Malappuram Dt.  Valayamkulam is 2km from Changaramkulam on Kunnamkulam/ Thrissur road. From Kunnamkulam its about 15km. (Kerala, India)

For visit/info:

Santhosh Alangode
Sopanam School of Panchavadyam, Kozhissyamgaattu Temple,
Valayamkulam, Changaramkulam, Malappuram Dt, Kerala, India
Ph: +91-8086351794/ 8086044262


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