The selection criteria for a new group in 2012 were the same as in 2011. But the most important part, the publicity campaign didn’t pose much difficulty, as participants of the 2011 group disseminated seminar related information in their regions and, thus, locally have formed small groups of interested and motivated teachers. Therefore, the publicity campaign in 2012 was entirely self-organized by them. Motivation and interest of teachers in disseminating information and recruiting new participants became a strong indicator of the En Belgi seminar’s success among teachers and students. However, the course of the work and progress of both groups went in different ways and addressed different aspects of traditional teaching methodology.
In 2012, we selected 14 teachers with a diverse geographical representation. The majority of participants were from mountainous rural southern provinces and, most importantly included, 2 representatives of Kyrgyz minority living in Murgab, Tajikistan, as the art of playing komuz is fading away there. We are far from saying that there are no komuz players in Murgab, but, mostly they are self-taught “musicians” playing by ear. Another issue is the scarcity of their repertoire, for it is limited to certain popular and standard folk songs and melodies. Thus, there is a danger of people becoming disinterested and losing interest in komuz if contemporary art is only about repetition of the same repertoire over and over. The absence of a teaching methodology and network of komuz teachers puts the art of komuz at risk. Therefore, it was significant to include, at least, two teachers from Murgab, who, in turn, would be able to train other teachers and students. Thus, the Aigine CRC was able to reach out, not only to different corners of Kyrgyzstan, but also to Kyrgyz communities in mountainous Murgab.
The 2012 group, except for two teachers from Murgab, had strong theoretical, practical and professional music background and were proficient komuz players. The program of the sessions was the same as in 2011, although with certain modifications. However, the focus of the work and its course was quite different; the peculiarity of the 2012 group was their avid professionalism and thirst for knowledge. Due to their individualistic nature, a strong team spirit was not established during the seminar. At the end of the set-up seminar in spring, participants requested to have 30 minutes of individual training with N. Abdrakhmanov every day during the upcoming session. This individualistic approach became a strongest feature of this group as it allowed them to master the En Belgi in minute details and advanced melodies on a deeper and professional level. The participants expressed their amazement at the perfect sounding and explicit reproduction of folk melodies with the En Belgi system. Therefore, the group was eager to learn more variety of advanced melodies during the seminar. They have been working and perfecting every detail of hand playing technique and conditional signs all the difficulties notwithstanding. N. Abdrakhmanov strongly believes that participants of this group, in particular, will be able to continue his work on restoring long-forgotten folk melodies and songs and putting them on En Belgi system. Therefore, the Aigine CRC holds a firm belief that due to their strong motivation for professional growth, these 13 teachers will become the most ardent and professional bearers of the En Belgi system, advocates for “purity” of traditional melodies, and will raise new generation of professional komuz players educated in an authentically-traditional way. The participants keep putting different melodies and songs into the En Belgi and collecting wealth of material for a new book. Thus, the Aigine CRC together with N. Abdrakhmanov and one of his most dedicated apprentices, Cholpon Alymbekova, have nurtured both, bearers of traditional mentorship system, and dedicated professional komuz players with a strong motivation to reproduce ancient-old folk melodies and songs on En Belgi.
We will not be mistaken if we are to say that each participant’s achievement is the number and success of their students in learning komuz with the En Belgi system. Each participant has, at least, 5-7 students, who have already started taking part and performing in different events. It is also important to share the unique teaching experience of Nuraiym Isaeva, a participant from mountainous Ak-Talaa village in Naryn province. She taught komuz playing with En Belgi to an American Peace Corps volunteer from a neighboring village, and during four short months, her student managed to acquire all the knowledge needed to master advanced level melodies in the book and, furthermore, launched a study group for school students in her village and started teaching komuz before she left back to the states. As a result, not only participants are teaching students, but their students are becoming able to teach others. Thus, the Aigine CRC is firmly convinced in revitalization of traditional mentorship system and its further sustainable development.
The Aigine CRC found it efficient to start incorporating traditional teaching methodology from the “bottom”, through komuz lessons, instead of going through the bureaucratic system of the Ministry of Education. Having been able to cover all the 7 provinces, we were able to build a strong and stable network of teachers throughout the country motivated to promote and transmit their knowledge to their students. We are now assured that our seminar participants, the teachers themselves, will advocate and incorporate En Belgi into formal education as an example of efficient teaching methodology. They have already started teaching komuzwith En Belgi within their own schools and, we believe, that soon enough the En Belgi will be officially incorporated into state teaching curriculum, as it’s already being introduced not only in high schools, but also in specialized music schools, colleges and universities. As a next step, the Aigine CRC is planning to coordinate incorporation of En Belgi into state subsidized structure of Youth Education Centers. YEC branches are widely distributed and represented throughout the country.