The Ponnivala team was in St. Louis last week for FeTNA 2014. We enjoyed all the displays, cultural presentations, and even some fun workshops like Zoe Sherinian’s drumming workshop.
Professor Zoe Sherinian (Ethnomusicology, University of Oklahoma) is a phenomenon all her own. She has specialized in the playing of the Tamil parai drum for many years, including the body movements and singing that are part and parcel of its traditional use.
Because the playing of this particular drum is strongly associated with the lowest rungs of India’s traditional caste hierarchy, and because this instrument is normally played by men, Zoe’s several performances at FeTNA 2014 were eye-popping. Everyone enjoyed her stunning Tamil drumming skills as a Western woman, as well as her enthusiasm and warm, interactive teaching manner.
Professor Sherinian volunteered to teach a drumming class at FeTNA, St. Louis for all who expressed interest. There were young kids and obvious senior citizens all participating in her class with genuine zest. Viewed from a social perspective her positive class results can almost be labeled “revolutionary.” This was a great initiative for FeTNA 2014. See the pictures for proof of her highly participatory class ambiance! A true group spirit flowed across all class, age and gender lines during this unique teaching session!