Home Learn English Learn Now! Afghanistan’s Institute of Music

Afghanistan’s Institute of Music

E-mail Print PDF

Download During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan playing music or listening to it was considered religious taboo.

But now the country has a National Institute of Music which has been operating for one year.

At the school women and men learn western and eastern music.

Our correspondent Malyar Sadeq Azad spent a day there.


This is one of the Afghan national anthems.

During the Taliban regime boys were only allowed to play it. But here girls and boys stand next to each other in the National Music Institute’s orchestra.

The Institute was set up last year with government and foreign aid money.

It now has more than 150 students who, as well as the normal school curriculum, learn music.

Dr. Nasir Ahmad Sarmast is the Institute’s President.

“The large number of students we have and their passionate enthusiasm to learn music shows that our societies is interested in music and believe that their children should have access to music to listen to it and express their feelings through music.”

12-year-old student, Ahmadullah, sits alone in a class room practicing the Sarod, a stringed musical instrument, used mainly in Indian classical music.

“I have been interested in music for a long time through learning music and playing it, I would like to help others who are poor and need assistance.”

Erfan Mohammad Khan from India is one of five foreign teachers at the Institute.

“People in Afghanistan have always been interested in eastern music, particularly instruments that are common to Afghanistan and India like the harmonium, viola, drum or sitar. But in recent years western music has been promoted and musicans in order to earn money play western music. But fortunately there is a resurgence of interest in folkloric music too.”

The tabla drum is one of the key instruments of Afghan folk music.

The table class has lots of students.

18-year-old Samiullah Rafiqzada is one of them.

“From very early on I always beat drum rhythms of my knees and the table. During the Taliban regime there was no chance to learn music. I moved to Pakistan and it was only when I returned and this Institute was established that I have been able to fulfill my dream. I practice four hours a day and am very happy we have such a music academy in our country.”

This Institute also provides training to orphans and street children.

Dr. Sarmast, the Director of the Afghan Music Institute explains:

“We have allocated fifty percent of seats annually to male and female orphans we collect from orphanages and streets. Many of these children are the breadwinners for their families so we have established a trust fund for them and pay them 27 USD a month to replace their earnings.”

8-year-old Sapna, who plays the piano, is one of the orphanage children at the institute.

“I don’t remember a lot about my parents. I was only told by my relatives that they were killed by a bomb. I came here from the orphanage a few months ago and have taken an interest in the piano. My teacher helps me a lot and I have now memorized six pages of music.”

“My name is Robin Ryczekand I am a teacher at the Institute of Afghan music. Originally, I am from the United States of America. Like everywhere in the world, there are amazing people who are kind and intelligent. These students are absolutely wonderful. So, I found a home here. As a music teacher, I find a bright future for a lot of students here. Playing music and having music is just a general part of their life. It has been very wonderful. So, there is always a second side to a coin.”



1) national anthem: lagu kebangsaan

2) enthusiasm: keinginan besar/semangat tinggi 

3) passionate : hasrat yang kuat

4) resurgence: kebangkitan

5) fulfill: memenuhi

6) memorize: menghafal

7) breadwinner: pencari nafkah

8) second side to a coin: sisi lain

9) earnings: pendapatan/penghasilan

10) trust fund: dana perwalian


1) According to this story what was banned in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime and why?

2) What kind of music and instruments can you learn at the Afghan Institute of Music?  

3) Who goes to this school and how many students are there?

4) Where do the teachers come from and what did they say about the school?

5) Apart from students, the school provides training for who and how does the system work?

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 July 2011 15:59 )  

Add comment

Asia Calling House Rules for Comments:
We reserve the right to fail messages that:
· Are likely to provoke, attack or offend others
· Are racist, homophobic or sexists or otherwise objectionable
· Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
· Break the law or encourage illegal behavior
· Include contact details including number or email address
· Are considered to be advertising or promoting a product or SPAM
· Are considered off-topic

Security code

  • This week on Asia Calling

Burma’s civil war denies more children an education: Burmese rights groups say thousands of children in conflict areas are missing out school as physical survival and food security takes priority. Rights groups say nationally 60 percent of Burmese children don’t finish primary school and in conflict areas the situation is worse.  Fighting that broke out in early June between the government troops and armed groups ethnic groups has displaced thousands of people including many children.  Banyar Kong Janoi reports from a make-shift school in a refugee camp, in provincial capital of the Kachin state, Laiza.

Filipinos cry sacrilege over art with Christ, phallic symbols: All this week, a prayer asking forgiveness for an art exhibition is being read after every Catholic mass in the Filipino capital, Manila. The controversy art installation at a government cultural centre mixes Christ with kitschy symbols of pop culture and includes a crucifix with a movable penis. The artist Mideo Cruz intended to be a commentary on icon worship. But he has been branded a "demon" and bombarded with death threats and hate mail. The exhibition was closed down but a debate ranges about whether his work is art or blasphemy, and whether free of expression has been violated. Madonna Virola reports from a public hearing at the Senate in Manila.

These stories and much more this week

on Asia Calling:

Your Window on Asia