Several times today we were able to play Sarika Keo together in ensemble, and many of our new players were able to keep up. It’s rough but recognizable! Our first group is still working on recalling and smoothing out the many melodies in the Chut section of the Blessing Dance, and continuing to learn Bopha Lokey. With a month between classes, this work is progressing more slowly due to the complexity of the classical music compared to the simpler and shorter melody of the folk song “Sarika Keo.”
SUSAN: Having the opportunity to work and learn from Master Song Heng is an honor and a privilege. His patience and kindness in sharing his own musical expertise are very encouraging to one whose training does not include Cambodian music or the specialized instruments used in its performance.
LAURA: Monthly work has definitely proven more challenging. I was able to retain much of what I learned last year but did have to ask Song and Kelli for some reminders in addition to listening to audio clips of my parts that I recorded last year. I found that the “churt” melody was easier to remember than the flower dance since I spent more time on”churt” last year because of it’s length.
RITA: I already wish we had more time with master Heng than one class each month. I’m enjoying learning to play Sarika Keo on the kong toc and the roneat daek, since my young students will have success with this melody as an introduction to playing pinpeat instruments. However, I am eager to continue learning more classical music.
Our experts perform “Bopha Lokey” for us:
Tonight, our community musicians arrived early and played and sang Bopha Lokey for us so that we have a better understanding of what we’re working toward. Our own efforts pale in comparison, but we’re enjoying the process. It took us awhile to work out the entrances and put the parts together. Song’s patience and humor are contagious, so we don’t get too frustrated. If Song does, he hides it well!
Hear our group’s practice session while we learned “Bopha Lokey” and tried to figure out how the parts fit together: