It is said that young people are abandoning culture. Customs are considered outdated concepts, old people’s sayings irrelevant in today’s science and technology era. Traditional music is also said to be primitive; young people prefer contemporary music.

One hundred junior high school students in Palu, Central Sulawesi, defies those stereotypes. Their percussion performance is a collaboration in harmony. Every afternoon past school hours, since last month, chosen students from 20 state junior high schools in the Central Sulawesi capital has been rehearsing traditional musicla instruments. Sounds from tambourines, lalove flutes, and kakula gongs can be heard in a colossal musical collaboration in the grounds of SMPN 15 Palu.

While others prefer the piano, violin, or guitar, the Palu junior high students are proud to play traditional musical instruments, said Fachmi, one of the coaches.

“I usually play the violin myself,” Fachmi said. At first he was puzzled, but later he was touched by the seriousness of the students in training. The Palu Cultural Board member remembered that when he was their age, he was ashamed to play or even carry traditional musical instruments. “We were afraid to be called backwards and narrow-minded,” he said.

A lot of kids out there might still think that way. However, Fachmi sees that things are different in Palu. For Palu youth, traditional music is cool. “It’s different from when I was young, now traditional music is a trend among them.”

Their spirit to reconnect with their ancestral cultural roots is in line with the music composition they will play, Pakaroso Ada. The lyrics are simple:

Kutesaka ada ntotua

Totua ta nompa toraka kita

The translation is:

I tell the customs of the ancestors

Our ancestors remind us of old values

Fachmi explained that the song reminded people to remember their culture. He considered it proper to be performed by the junior high students, to inspire Indonesian youth to uphold and strengthen their cultural tradition and preserve their own national culture.

The colossal music group which comprises of 100 junior high school students was created as a collaboration program between the Palu Education Board and Arts Council during the past year. The program enables students to learn playing traditional musical instruments in school. They have performed in the Nusantara Student Arts Competition, but representing their own schools.

In the 2018 Gaung Sintuvu Festivals, the students would collaborate for the first time. Their group will perform in the closing act of Palu Salonde Percussion Festival in Kaombona Urban Forest, 14 August 2018.