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Hasmik Hovhannisyan

Children Learn Music Without Instruments

“When my family moved here from Charentsavan, there were only construction workers here. It was 1999 and there was nothing here. Until 2002 we didn't have electricity. Now each family receives 60 Kilowatts of electricity for free. Many have cars and there is transportation to Stepanakert and Vardenis. In the last few years, life has gotten much better and I think it will get even better in the future, “ Robert said.

The village of Verin Shen is seven kilometers away from the New Shahumyan region's capital of Karvachar. Verin Shen is called Valodavan by the people here. According to one theory, a man called Valod came here after the war and founded the village. According to another theory, Valod never lived here, he fought and died here. Taking into account that Robert's relatives were the first settlers here, and none of them was called Valod, the second story seems more plausible.

Verin Shen with its 53 houses differs little from other New Shahumyan villages. There are no decent roads, in the only store everything is so expensive that villagers prefer to go to Vardenis for serious shopping, and there are long lines every day to the only water source under the oak tree. Robert Virabyan's positive outlook seems strange in light of this reality, especially taking into account that his view is shared by a majority of the villagers. The reason is probably the presence of a military base, where most of the village's male population works.

“We sign a contract for three years. One month we are on the frontlines, defending our borders, and the next two months we are home, “ said Robert.

His wife Areknazan Avetyan added that most people who don't have higher education work in the military base, and those with higher education work in the school and village hall. But the latter group also prefer to work at the military base, where the pay is higher.

Areknazan's family moved here in 2001. Her father Albert Avetyan worked in the military. He took part in the Karabakh war and till his death was an editor at the New Shahumyan newspaper.

Areknazan is the director of the village club. She is working now, even though she has a three-month- old daughter, Siranush.

The village club is one room in the village hall, with a table and a chair, which were brought in recently. A conductor and kanon (zither) player by profession , Areknazan has opened a music club here. She teaches music to children. But the problem is that the children only know in theory how to play the zither or the flute, because there are no instruments available.

“Of course, it's a serious problem. Children are children – they want to run around in the forest, take livestock to the fields, and in short be free. If there are no instruments, they won't be motivated at all to learn.”

Areknazan has fifteen students. She wants to open other clubs, but it's not possible for now, due to a lack of teachers and space.

Yet, at the newly rebuilt middle school there is no lack of teachers. Areknazan says that young people want to study in Verin Shen. “It's strange, but after they go away to study, everyone returns to the village.” The most popular profession is pedagogy.

“The bad thing is that most teachers are not from here. Many study part time here, and work at the same time. And then the school hires experts with a fulltime education. It would be good if they would be more supportive towards our students so that our teachers would be from our school.”

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