The Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC) in Phnom Penh is planning to launch the Khmer Youth Music Heritage programme to provide opportunities for youths to receive free instruction to learn traditional Khmer musical instruments.
In an announcement seen by The Post on December 9, the UYFC said the programme will be open to people 13 to 35 years old who are in good physical condition and highly committed to studying. Applications will be accepted from January 1 to March 1 of next year.
UYFC secretary-general Som Monorom said the dates for the training would depend on the number of applicants and would be announced after reviewing the applications.
“Of course, we do not yet know the exact number of youths who will enrol, but after collecting all applications, we will determine a schedule for Monday through Friday and on the weekends,” he said.
According to Monorom, teaching young people to play Khmer instruments and music could ensure a continuation of traditions. The training will also offer participants a new aspect to their education and provide them with skills that they might later use for family entertainment.
If students decide that they want to play traditional music as a career, the UYFC would provide further instruction and assistance.
“For anyone who wants to develop into a professional Khmer classical musician, we will continue to offer support because the UYFC is a place devoted to helping young people. The first step is to measure their level of interest and commitment to study,” Monorom said.
The UYFC has its own training centre within the Khemrani Building located on Fine Arts Street in Prek Leap commune’s Prek Leap, in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district. The teachers are professors from the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.
Siyonn Sophearith, the ministry’s director-general of techniques for cultural affairs, emphasised that learning traditional Khmer music is a real and meaningful contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage.
“Our intangible heritage is the providence of everyone, not just the ministry – the ministry only has a part in helping to promote, organise and fill in the gaps. It means that everything comes from our communities – the local villagers are the owners and keepers of society’s heritage,” Sophearith said.
RUFA rector Heng Sophady expressed support for the UYFC’s planned programme.
He noted that the university also offers a curriculum in traditional music, and despite many young people today gravitating towards contemporary forms of music, there remain those who are interested in studying traditional styles.
“I think that youths still value Khmer cultural arts, and only some are more interested in modern music. Through [UYFC-sponsored] activities like a traditional Khmer singing contest, we see young people emerging to express their excitement and support,” Sophady said.
Sam Sam-Ang, a culture ministry adviser, said there are more than 100 traditional musical instruments in Cambodian culture, with the UYFC courses covering the top 10. .tr courses.
“We will begin with teaching about 10 instruments,” he said.