Orville Stoeber, a veteran musician who resides in Los Angeles, has come to Siem Reap to provide music lessons to students at Tchey Primary School.

Orville is teaching the students to understand basic music theory and to read sheet music.  Rather than have a set lesson plan, Orville is very intent on interacting with the students and following their lead, in order to make sure they are enjoying what they are learning.  He begins every class by singing to the students in English while they kept the beat with their shakers.  Then, it is the students’ turn to sing Khmer songs to Orville, using their new skills to read from sheet music he has provided.

Next, the theory lesson begins.  Orville writes a scale on the board and reviews the notes.  The students follow along as he taps the beat of the song they have created together:  “I love the people of Cambodia, ah ah ah ah ah ah.”   He uses this song to visually and aurally teach the students whole, half, quarter and eighth notes.  Rany, one of PLFs dedicated local staff members, translates parts of the lessons.  In this way, Orville’s classes provided lessons on both music and English, in addition to pure creative enjoyment.

One of Orville’s students is learning to play an acoustic guitar left behind by a previous volunteer, which Orville has restrung for use at the school. Younger students on lunch break crowd the doorway, watching and singing along.  While his class practices writing the notes of a new song their blank sheet music, Orville sings to the younger students, holding the cords as they take turns strumming his guitar.

The arts are vital for child development as they help with fine motor skills, math, language acquisition and imagination.  Yet because they require time, resources and teachers that are often not readily available, art and music are a luxury for most students in rural Cambodia.

The PLF is trying to promote the arts whenever possible, and having an expert such as Orville volunteer his time here is invaluable.  To learn more about the PLF’s other art programs, read about our art students and the art program at Tchey.  

By Elizabeth Palumbo

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