After a moment of embarrassment while searching for the building where Beit Almusica had its facilities, only to realize they had a two-story banner with their organization’s name on it directly facing us, Manmeet and I made it to the Beit Almusica offices. The Community Projects Manager, Melanie Atrash, greeted us warmly as we arrived at their very impressive facilities.
We took a seat with her and the founder of Beit Almusica, Amer Nakhleh and had some very strong and very delicious Arabic coffee as we discussed their role in the community of providing music classes to the Palestinian youth in their community of Shefa’Amer, Israel.
We learned in our meeting that Israel has three different types of schools, Israeli schools, Palestinian schools, and schools that are open to both. Communities that are primarily Palestinian, such as Shefa’Amer, have only Palestinian schools which are funded considerably less than other types of schools in the area. This means that classes such as music suffer the most and are largely unavailable to students in these schools.
Beit Almusica provides these students with a way to continue their music education and to perform. They are even able to take the national exam to receive a music degree through the program at Beit Almusica. The organization focuses on keeping the culture of Palestinian music alive as well, playing and teaching music from Palestinian composers.
After coffee and a chat, Melanie took us on a tour of their two-story music facility. The first stop, the auditorium! In the vast auditorium, lined with photographs of Palestinian music icons, was a piano student playing piano with her teacher. Miral was being taught jazz piano by a former Beit Almusica student, Loay. She even played a piece for us that she composed herself! You can watch the video we took here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akMZEEd6RBk&feature=youtu.be
The next stop on the tour was a peak into their many individual classrooms where students receive lessons. One of these classrooms was being converted into a recording studio! Finally, we saw an apartment which is used for volunteers and even visiting musicians who are playing in their auditorium. Before we made our trip back to Haifa, Melanie even taught Manmeet a scale or two on the piano!
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