Chum Ngek first formally studied the repertoire and instruments of the major Khmer musical genres—pin peat, mohori, and phleng kar—at the age of ten under his grandfather, Um Hieng. Under his grandfather’s guidance, Chum learned to perform pin peat repertoire on the sralai, kong thom, and sampho.
Chum Ngek also studied kong thom, sampho, and skor thom under Master Oeur, who was a cousin of Chum’s grandfather.
Although Chum’s grandfather did not want him to become a professional musician, his talent and love for music could not be denied. Consequently, Chum’s grandfather set up private apprenticeships for him with Master Nit Chou, a roneat aik master. Chum Ngek remained committed to Nit Chou and always considered him to be his permanent and master teacher. Nit and Chum’s relationship became like that of a parent and child. Chum was like a member of Nit’s family, and in addition to musical technique, Nit taught Chum about professionalism and adulthood. Because Nit wanted Chum to be well-educated, he encouraged Chum to expand his studies by learning with other teachers, too.
After studying for a year under Nit Chou, Chum also began learning from Master Chhuorm who was also a master of the roneat aik. He was renowned for his playing and musical ingenuity.
A little later, Chum Ngek also studied with Master Van, another roneat aik master, well-known throughout Cambodia.
Chum Ngek broadened his knowledge of kong thom under the guidance of Master Ton.