Could ‘Sape’ to School’ be the future of local music education?

By Jude Toyat


Narawi Rashidi, a multi-instrumentalist and head of the music department of Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) is looking for more government organisations corporate sectors and individuals to come forward as sponsors to run a new project known as ‘Sape’ to School’.

The ethnic music preservation project is aimed at making sape a must-have musical instrument in music education at schools in Malaysia, especially in Sarawak.

“It is an initiative taken to promote traditional music in schools.


Narawi Rashidi

Narawi Rashidi


“This is due to the fact that especially in primary schools, students are more familiar with only foreign musical instruments and songs, thus it is important to make them recognise those of our own state and country,” he said when met at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) recently.

Apart from instilling the love for the local music for students as early as those in primary schools, it is also one of the measures taken to promote the music of sape among the younger generation.

“Musical instruments in other parts of the world such as violin, erhu, angklung, and gamelan has gained their spots at universities around the world.

“It is also my dream for sape to be recognised around the world on par with other foreign musical instruments. Thus it is important to keep it alive for generations to come,” he added.

Narawi hopes that there will be interested bodies, including the education department to work with him in realising this dream.

“I will make a package for this, which includes CDs and books on Sape’,” he said.

Narawi also makes his own sape.


Narawi's own specially designed sape.

Narawi’s own specially designed sape.


“I buy the wood from a factory, process it and also do the wood thinning there. I will assemble it at home, put glue, spray and all the necessary things at home,” he said, explaining that it takes him about three days to complete one sape. He hopes to open a small factory to produce wood specifically for sape-making in future.

“I hope that such effort will be looked at seriously, and I also encourage more musicians from other states in Malaysia to start doing the same thing and make their own traditional musical instruments schools,” he added.

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