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Globetrotting troubadours

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Globe Note brings its eclectic sound and passion for musical education to the children of Cambodia during the brass band’s two-week stint in the capital

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

A Globe Note band member instructs a student at Phnom Penh’s Sok Sabay Centre on Monday.

The music of a 10-piece brass band is not often heard in Phnom Penh, and certainly not a singing, dancing, ska, reggae and world music ensemble.

The band - Globe Note - is composed of 10 young French students who have been travelling for the last four months playing and teaching music to disadvantaged communities of children throughout the world.

They arrived in Cambodia just over a week ago and played Saturday night to a delighted audience of 50 or so at the French Cultural Centre.

The performance was vigorous and entertaining, with band members twirling pirouettes, joking with the audience and handling their musical instruments like a juggler would his balls.

Globe Note will be based in Phnom Penh for the next two weeks, and the band is spending their days with the 68 disadvantaged children of the expansive Sok Sabay Centre of Life.

Their classes include musical theory, dance, song, percussion, brass and how to fashion instruments from recycled materials.

Their work will culminate in a concert to be performed with the children this Saturday afternoon at the new Sok Sabay Centre, which will include a tale about Phnom Penh residents journeying to the provinces for Khmer New Year.

The concert will feature traditional Apsara dancing as well as new musical tricks learned by the children from the Globe Note musicians during the week.

Group leader Perceval Descours says Cambodia has been one of their best experiences the band has had to date.

The kids here ... are really active and interested in

playing music.

"The kids here have responded well to what we do, and they are really active and interested in playing  music. Our main goal is for children to have fun with music so our classes are very dynamic, with lots of questions, and I think it works and they like it," he said.
The group hails from an engineering university in the town of Lille, in Northern France, and after playing together in the 30-piece university brass band decided to break away from academic life and seek funding for a yearlong global tour.

Globe Note have already travelled to Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Thailand, and like to pick up songs from each country they visit to play to audiences later during their travels.

It is a band policy to play the songs they learn just as they were first heard, with no modification.

"Our music is very fresh and simple, and we don't need amplification," said Descours.

"Our arrangement works well because we can play wherever and whenever we want."

Descours says children all over the world respond to music in much the same way, though some children, like a group of intellectually and physically disabled children in Thailand, need special attention.

"Many of the children could not play instruments, and some could not even get out of bed, so we just played music to them and let them hear the differences of each individual instrument," Descours says.

"But basically children everywhere, if they are disadvantaged or not, take to music really well. They are often bored by the theory of it, so we really want to make the whole experience fun for them."

Globe Note will perform with The Mekong Pirates at the Equinox Bar this Saturday.

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