Musicians Urge the Preservation of Karen Traditional Music

Karen traditional musicians have urged the Karen people to preserve Karen traditional music since the majority of the Karen people are not interested in playing the Karen traditional musical instruments.

Saw Mike Aung Kho, who plays Gain (Migyaung Hlyar) and Khanar (zither), told Karen News on May 14 that the number of people who can play traditional musical instruments has been slowly decreasing.

“I always invite the youths to come and learn from me. They disappear after coming for one or two days. They are more interested in other instruments rather than our own traditional instruments,” he said.

He added that training schools should be opened for the traditional instruments to prevent the traditional music from disappearing and traditional music should be played in Karen zat pwe and other ceremonies.

Karen traditional musical instruments are only played once a year during the graduation ceremony of the Karen Literature and Culture Association and they are rarely played in other ceremonies.

Only a small number of Karen people living in the Karen State and along the Thai-Myanmar border play the traditional instruments and they have nearly disappeared in other areas inhabited by the Karen people.

“We no longer see youths competing in the traditional musical instrument competitions during the joint graduation ceremonies. A training school will be opened in Mu Saree Village at the foothill of Mt. Zwekabin to preserve Karen traditional music. We are still discussing about when it will be opened,” said Saw Maung Nyan, chair of the Karen Culture Organization (KCO).

The Karen youths have lost interest in playing Karen traditional musical instruments such as Nar Dain (harp), Kha Nar, Thaunt Tun (violin), Pi Par (pipe), Gain, and Bin (Karen Drum).

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