Preserving the culture of Spiti Valley

A local singer is being trained at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), so he will be able to bring traditional music and dance to our students

As part of our efforts to ensure the younger generation of Spiti Valley grows up in an environment that celebrates and preserves their culture, we decided to establish a music room in our school and to train a local singer who will be qualified to teach our students in traditional singing, musical instruments and dance.


To start the project, Phuntsok Tsering Barpa, Director of the Thantong Lugar Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, kindly advised us on the design of the music room, and recommended musical instruments and dance costumes to stock it with. We succeeded furnishing the music room and procuring dance costumes, lutes and drum set as planned.  A local painter, Tenzin Kesang, painted the walls of the room.


Special training arrangements at TIPA

The most challenging part of this project has been training a local singer, Tenzin Dhondup, who is from Pho village in Spiti Valley. In January 2020, TIPA had kindly agreed to provide the candidate with musical training, but the institute had to close during the Covid-19 outbreak, and no training classes could be provided for external trainees during the year. However, TIPA did kindly made a special arrangement for our candidate: it asked a very good music teacher, Mrs Tsering Paldon, to provide Tenzin Dhondup with training from the second week of September 2020 onwards. In order to catch up on the lessons that were missed due to the pandemic, Tenzin Dhondup is now joining TIPA’s usual classes for 2021. After completion of his training in the summer, he will undertake an exam.

“It is a very good idea to train a local singer with some traditional musical instruments for Serkong School. This will immensely benefit the school and local people, and will boost the traditional musical culture of Spiti. Normally, one year of training is not sufficient to become a good music teacher. It would be good if he could continue his musical training for some more years.”

Mr Samten, Artistic Director of TIPA


Our goal: celebrating and preserving the musical culture of Spiti Valley

Tenzin Dhondup is a passionate singer who is well versed in traditional Spiti Valley and Indian songs. In 2019, he received the best singer award in the “Voice of Spiti” competition. However, he is very concerned about the future of traditional Spiti music:

“At present there are hardly 10 good musicians in all of Spiti Valley. I will make sure that the traditional music and songs of Spiti are well preserved – currently they are on the verge of disappearing.”

Tenzin Dhondup, singer from Pho village, Spiti Valley


At TIPA, Tenzin Dhondup is being trained in traditional lute to begin with. Later, he will be introduced to other musical instruments and he will also be trained in dancing.


In light of the many excellent artists at TIPA, Tenzin Dhondup very soon felt comfortable at the institute, as the people there have been encouraging and have helped him to learn quickly. After the training, he will have the opportunity to join TIPA’s network and exchange programmes.

“At TIPA, I saw the power of traditional music. My plans for teaching at Serkong School are to encourage the students to get interested in our traditional music and dance, and to show their richness. I will try my best to achieve this aim.”

Tenzin Dhondup, singer from Pho village, Spiti Valley


The establishment of the school’s music room, the procurement of dance costumes, lutes and drum set, and also the one-year training for the local musician, are all part of a grant for Serkong School that was kindly funded by the German Embassy in Delhi in 2020.


Author: Acharya Tenzin Dorjee, Principal of Serkong School

31 January 2021

Photo by Tenzin Tsering
Photo by Tenzin Tsering
Photo by Tenzin Tsering


Tabo Monastery
The Institute of Studies in Buddhist Philosophy and Tribal Cultural Society (ISBP & TCS)
Village and P.O. Tabo
Distt. Lahaul and Spiti
Himachal Pradesh 172113




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