The Persatuan Seniman Natheswaram Dan Thavil Bersatu Malaysia ((PSNTBM) is on a mission to create skilled local players of the traditional instruments.

According to the association's president Ganesan Arumugam Pillay, PSNTBM currently has about 150 members nationwide, but the numbers are dwindling, in tandem with the interest among the Indian community on such instruments.

To address this problem, PSNTBM is setting up the "Natheswara Thavil Isai Fine Arts Academy" to train, develop, improve, and educate new talents to learn these traditional "holy" instruments in a systematic manner, while being accredited and recognized by the revelant authorities.

The academy will be officially launched on April 30 at the HGH Convention Centre in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.

Speaking to Astro Ulagam, Ganesan said that the lack of skillfully trained local thavil and nadheswaram players have posed difficulties for local temples in employing them.

"Aside from educating and developing new talents, the academy will also uplift the Indian community, strengthen our culture, improve spiritual connection, and create new job opportunities," he said.

In addition, the scarcity of local talents has also opened doors to Indian nationals with sub-par skills and improper visas to flood the market, he lamented.

The launching is expected to be graced by Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan, as well as the High Commissioner of India, B.N. Reddy.

Ganesan said the association is focusing on starting the talents young, by targetting to educate students among residents of orphanages, as well as in primary education at Tamil schools.

"Nowadays, kids learn musical instruments when they are still young, but they are always either piano, or guitar, and so on. We thought, why not thavil and nadheswaram, which are full of cultural significance, and known to drive out bad vibrations at ceremonies.

"When the academy opens, Malaysia will be the first country outside India to have a dedicated Natheswaram academy, " Ganesan said, adding that his association is affiliating with the renowned Chennai Tamil Isai Sangam for syllabus, teaching expertise, and accreditation.

Lessons will take place at the Ceylon Tamils' Kalavirthy Sangam's office in Jalan Imbi, and about 20 people across various age groups have expressed interest to take up lessons at the academy, he added.

In addition, there will also be initial online classes for those wanting to take up lessons from outside the Klang Valley, and once established, the academy is also expected to become a hub to learn the traditional arts for people from other countries in the region.

According to Ganesan further, the academy will cater to starters, until they reach 'degree' level in playing the instruments, and the lessons are expected to be charged a nominal fee, until sponsors are roped in to make them free.

Those wanting to know more about the launch or the academy can contact Ganesan at 014-3388756.

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