POOVALUR SRIJI learned mridangam from his father Sri P. A. VENKATARAMAN [1924 - 1989]. P. A. Venkataraman started his training in Mridangam under Sri Mylatoor Sami Iyer when he attended Annamalai University at Chidambaram. He was the first to study music in the tiny village of Poovalur, situated in Lalgudi Taluk near Tiruchirappalli. Annamalai University in the early nineteen thirties, headed by Tiger Varadachariar, strove to be a premier art school under the patronage of Dr. Sir. Annamalai Chettiar. Mylatoor Sami Iyer was the instructor for Mridangam studies. MYLATOOR SAMI IYER [1900 -1972 circa] was well known for his career as a teacher at Annamalai University. He was one among the earlier musicians who had the tough task of transforming a Gurukula system into a University Curricula. At the encouragement of Annamalai Chettiar, he wrote one of the earliest books on Mridangam Methods. He trained many students including his son Mylatoor Ramachandran, who served as a Staff Artiste in All India Radio, Pondicherry. Mylatoor Sami Iyer learned Mridangam from his Uncle Mylatoor Krishna Iyer. MYLATOOR KRISHNA IYER [1860 - 1914 circa] was a well-known mridangist around the turn of the twentieth century. He had his early Mridangam training from Alapuzai Annathurai Bhagavathar in Mylatoor, a tiny settlement on the outskirts of Palaghat in the State of Kerala. Later he moved to Kanjur Mannaikal near Choranur, into the house of Neelakanda Nambhothibatt who had a great understanding of music and adequate knowledge about Mridangam. Many artists visited this house and Krishna Iyer, through them heard about Narayansami Appa, Dukkaram, Dasu Swamigal and Thanjavur Sethurama Rao who were popular and all of them lived in Thanjavur. Krishna Iyer moved to Thanjavur and started attending the weekly Saturday Bhajans conducted by Narayanasami Appa. He observed Narayanasami Appa’s technique and started accompanying the Harikatha (musical discourse) of Thanjavur Krishna Bhagavathar. After five years he was part of a well-known trio of Thanjai Panchapekesa Bhagavathar - Harikatha, Marudappa Pillai – Second Vocals, and Krishna Iyer – Mridangam. P.A.Venkataraman. After his graduation from Annamalai University, he was attracted to the genius Palghat Mani Iyer [1921 - 1981]. Mani Iyer mesmerized his listeners through his dynamic revolutionizing style. P.A. Venkataraman followed him for two years but never had a lesson due to the extremely busy schedule of Mani Iyer. Later, at the advice of Sami Iyer and the recommendation of Tiger Varadachariyar, he came to know another phenomenal Mridangist- Sri Palani Subramania Pillai. PALANI SUBBRAMNIA PILLAI [1908 - 1962] learned mridangam from his father, Palani Muthiah Pillai [1878 - 1945]. Muthiah Pillai and Sri Pudukkoutai Dakshinamurthi Pillai [1875 - 1937] learned mridangam from Sri Manpoondia Pillai, [1857 - 1921] who was supposed to have also learned from the "father of mridangam" Sri Narayanasami Appa. Manpoondia Pillai has the credential of upgrading the Kanjira from a folk instrument into a concert accompaniment by introducing different techniques, including squeezing to resemble the voice. Interestingly, Palani Muthiah Pillai played Thavil earlier and later switched to Mridangam. Palani, having his guru’s colleague Dakshinamurthi Pillai as his mentor turned out to be a jewel among the mridangists. There are many folklore stories about his drumming, thanks to earlier recording technology, some were preserved to prove those claims. No doubt he was a poet among the mridangists. A six-footer (taller than an average Indian), with his personality and mastery, he commanded respect from everyone in the field of music. In a few concerts, he played Kanjira with his respected rival Palaghat Mani Iyer. Palani was invited to jam with Dave Brubeck and Joe Morello when they visited India, which made him one of the first among the Indian Jazz-fusion ideas in the late fifties. P.A. Venkataraman, having gone to Palani Subramania Pillai, was blessed to be noticed by his neighbor Alathur Venkatesa Iyer. Alathur Venkatesa Iyer, primarily a harmonium player, was Guru for many, from Alathur Brothers (the Carnatic greats) to M.K.Tkyagaraja Bhagavathar matinee idol of the early nineteen forties. Venkatesa Iyer taught P.A.Venkataraman the intricacies of rhythm and the knowledge to understand and appreciate Palani’s greatness. P. A.Venkataraman had the opportunity to accompany Venkatesa Iyer’s harmonium concerts with Ramachandra Sastry on flute. P.A.Venkataraman, inspired by his gurus regularly participated in the Friday Bhajans of Lalgudi Gopala Iyer, father, and Guru of well-known violinist Sri Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. Gopala Iyer influenced P.A.Venkataraman with his highly disciplined teaching techniques, which inspired P.A.V. to transform from a respected performer to a well-known teacher. One of his notable disciples is Prof. Trichy Sankaran. Prof. Sankaran continues to inspire Poovalur Sriji with his integrity and commitment to the art of Mridangam through his performances. Poovalur Sriji, in the path of his predecessors, contributes to the music world with his teaching, performing, recording, and publications.