To this day, the tradition of playing the Chlefeli is practised in Central Switzerland, predominantly as part of the so-called ‘Priis-Chlefele’.
The Chlefeli, also known as ‘Klefel’, are two small wooden boards that are held on either side of the middle finger. They are used to play rhythms by shaking the hand.
There are several theories as to where the custom originated from. The Chlefeli can be found as rhythmical backing instruments in traditional folk music. Yet they are also used during Lent as noise-making tools to drive away the winter ghosts.
Most Chlefeli rhythms are based on drum beats. Because the notation is very difficult, sayings have been invented to accompany the rhythms. During their walk to school or at break time in the schoolyard, children most commonly play the two most famous pieces, ‘d’Mülleri’ (‘The Miller’) and the ‘Ordonanzmarsch’ (‘Military March’). Many school children develop their own rhythm and rehearse movements to accompany them. At the ‘Priis-Chlefele’, the children can then demonstrate their creativity. The Priis-Chlefele is always held at the MythenForum the week before Good Friday, with 200 to 300 children, young people and adults competing at Chlefeli-playing. During the final, the three best players can show off their skills in the great hall.