After our third class, we are now halfway through our goal of six workshops. It’s exciting to hear how well our new participants are beginning to play, with gentler tones and greater facility and fluidity in ensemble work. Teams of players spend time working on their own skills with the patient guidance of master Heng, and also coach each other to learn more phrases or to play the melodies together.
SUSAN: I really enjoy being immersed in this learning experience and surrounded by the sounds of another culture. Learning through listening, imitation, and repetition is a humbling experience for those of us who generally consult the printed page and rely on musical notation. Being able to record our music on iPad was a very useful tool in helping to bridge our time between classes and instruments!
RITA: I spent time this week practicing Sarika Keo and am beginning to feel more competent playing the roneat daek. I love the primal sound and look of this metallophone. It presents new challenges for me because it’s played with both mallets moving in tandem, playing the same melody in octaves. It also offers opportunity to embellish the melody with tremolos and short runs. It’s fun!
In the beginning I had to play the ronaet daek very slowly, sometimes using a string to keep the mallets properly aligned. I spent time playing simple melodic and rhythmic patterns moving up and down the bars, first with the string and then without, to develop muscle memory for this technique. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this month that I can play Sarika Keo in octaves without the string on the mallets. Progress!
KIM: Meeting only once a month was challenging for me as that meant I had one month to forget! But it really only took one or two runs through the song to remember everything. Now I feel like I can almost do it with my eyes closed. It seems so much more organic and natural to play now.