November 2015

Welcome back, master Heng!

Song Photo
Song Heng introduces pinpeat instruments for new students.


Our first session went very well and we’re happy with the decision to split up the class into two overlapping two-hour sessions. We are delighted to have more instruments to work with this year.   We were able to review and practice the Chut melody during the first hour before shifting gears to work together with newcomers to begin learning the melodies of Sarika Keo and Bopha Lokey (Dance of the Flowers).


Musicans’ Reflections:

JANET:    This is my second year with Cambodian music study, and just having been exposed to the sounds and melodies over time has really helped my understanding of the form. I think that I really needed this time to unwind my music expectations, particularly of time and resolution.

Recently I played the drum with the Blessing Dance, and it settled in so much better than last year. I think it’s because I no longer hear this music as upbeats and downbeats in a metered way, which is how I first heard it. Now I hear it more like it’s own flowing pattern, without meter. Maybe next year I’ll be in a new place with my understanding. I certainly hope so! How I currently hear the music reminds me of no longer needing to translate a language into my own before comprehending the words.

RITA:    It’s wonderful to hear my classroom filled with the sounds of the pinpeat orchestra once again. I had time over the summer and fall to continue practicing the Blessing Dance and Bopha Lokey, and I feel they’ve almost become second nature to me.   I don’t have to work quite as hard at remembering the music or the mechanics of playing. I find I am now able to focus on keeping my arms and shoulders free of tension while playing and to think more about my phrasing and musicality.  It’s still challenging to perform with others as I’m not as familiar with their melodies and how the parts all fit together.

I’m excited to explore our new metallophone, the “roneat daek.” Song patiently demonstrated the melody for me.

Song demonstrates “Sarika Keo” on our new roneat daek.  

KIM:    As a beginner, I am in shock.  I have no idea how I am going to learn or remember anything that is being shown to me.  This first class was so exciting and also very challenging.

Once I figured out a pattern of how to remember what I was being taught, everything clicked and it became much easier to learn and then to remember.  I must have watched the video of my part at least 40 times as I figured out what to play but I enjoyed figuring it out.  I’m so used to reading notation that this way of learning was just a reminder of what music is really about – the sound.

Song demonstrates “Sarika Keo” melody on the kong toc.