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Friday, June 14, 2019

Preserving musical tradition through education | Good Times2 - Khmer Times

For most artists, music is a form of storytelling. It is a matter of composing a new narrative with notes and melodies, instead of words or sentences. For others, music has to be played to save it from dying.

Anith Adilah Othman speaks with Sokim Keat, a young Khmer who teaches Cambodian traditional instruments to the youths, out of fear that someday his beloved culture will be forgotten.

Sokim Keat, Communications & Outreach Coordinator has always been fond of the arts. Despite majoring in English, the 31-year-old has dabbled in the music field ever since he graduated from university. 

Keat with his students at Friends Music School. 
Photo: GT2/Pann Rachana

He said his passion grew tremendously after volunteering and learning at the Community of Living Chapei for over three years.

Last year, Keat took his passion for the traditional Khmer instruments to another level by opening the first music school in Cambodia that focuses more on the dying art.

“I just got curious. I wanted to know why Cambodian traditional music is no longer widely practiced. I was also wondering why the musicians who play traditional instruments mostly still live in poverty. The numbers of students majoring in Khmer music at the public universities are also very little.

“To me, it is a shame as there is a high demand for traditional musicians especially since Cambodia has a lot of festivals all year round. The market demand is there but not the supply,” he told Good Times2.

Today, he provides informal music education to the youths who share the same passion at his Friends Music School in Russey Keo, some 12 kilometers away from the city center. Due to his full-time job at the Cambodian Living Arts, the school only operates on the weekends...

Keat, however, admitted there were a lot of challenges initially. These include having limited access to good teachers and the traditional instruments.

“There are a handful of really superb musicians but they are always busy, especially from October to July as it is wedding season and they are booked for performances. When I was hiring, I had to really ask for help from friends through social media.
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Source: Khmer Times