Master Class

Opera Class
Originally uploaded by ryanocerosk.

Today, Trent took me to one of his favorite things here in Phnom Penh: music classes. Apparently, kids only go to school for four hours a day here so the rest of the time is free. Some students choose to spend some extra time (and money) to take English while other kids opt for music classes.

Our first stop of the day was Khmer Opera class (see above) held in a small room on the third floor of run-down building. The kids performed three pieces for us. The first was a group piece where girls performed traditional dance accompanied by three traditional instruments as well as a chorus of boys. The second piece was a drama where two boys fight over a girl and one boy ends up killing the other. I couldn’t help but smile throughout because it was good. The boys’ acting, albeit a bit soap-opera-ish and cheesy, was captivating. The girl cried real tears when one boy got stabbed. The third piece was more of a love duet where I couldn’t help but admire the singing even if it was a bit nasal (in true Khmer style).

The second class was in a a shed about five minutes from the last class. This class focused on teaching music as well as dance. While not quite as refined as the previous class, I was taken by the community in this class where girls helped each other get the dance right.

The third stop was not a class at all but rather a stop to the instrument maker. Trent paid him for a previous purchase but the maker took the time to show off his latest projects. A jam session ensued with Trent even getting a chance to play on the recorder and the piano (or electric keyboard rather). It was all fantastic to watch and document and neighbors stopped by to see what all the noise was about.