Many celebrated music schools in Afghanistan have been forced shut due to the Taliban ban over music. Students and staff learning to play the piano or sitar have had to drop their practice and passion over fear for life. Furthermore, many students have returned their instruments to their schools over the recent developments and possible consequences.
When music was brought back from the grave post the previous Taliban regime
Under Dr. Sarmast’s leadership, Founder and Director of National Institute of Music, in Kabul, the charm of melody was brought back to the classrooms after the Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001. There were no disparities between boys and girls, and both Western classical and Afghan music were practiced. Also, many graduates were the first ones to receive education in their families.
Zohra, Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra
The Zohra Orchestra enthralled the audiences nationally and internationally and became the national symbol for equal opportunity and education. The Taliban regime is devastating the dreams and hopes of the students living there, and families are helplessly forced to witness this horror.
Only time can tell how wide-reaching the ban of music would be in the new regime. In the past, the harshest punishments were reserved for those caught playing or listening to music, and the musicians were forced to go into hiding. Though the Taliban promises a more modern outlook this time around, with the promises of freedom for women and safety for government workers, we are yet to see evidence of it.
The death of music in the Afghan lands
The young musicians are under the target of the Taliban. Music is considered a crime under their rule. After its defeat in 2001, music was revived, and the young blood of Afghanistan was able to pursue their passions, be it in western music or rock and hip hop.
The indefinite closure of the music schools
Dr. Sarmast, along with his staff, has been in the negotiating process with the Taliban over the future of the music school. Situations are so alarming that the students have even had to deactivate their Facebook accounts due to the ongoing headhunt for Dr. Sarmast.
Families and teachers in Afghanistan are on tenterhooks about the history repeating itself. Many students in the music schools of Afghanistan have earned scholarships in the U.S. for further education. Without art and culture, a country is incomplete. Music heals and binds people together. It helps express emotions and conveys profound stories.
People are hopeful that the Taliban falls through the promises and reopen these institutions at the earliest.