Mira (name changed) is a quiet, introverted girl that started learning Oud last year. She is one of our most excellent students, and one of the few girls learning this instrument. She is one of the AACT students from last year to continue her music education at Beit Almusica; one out of 14 who are now regular students of Beit Almusica on scholarship.
As happy as we are being able to provide these children with high quality music education, it is painstakingly clear that this is far from enough. Palestinian Arabs in Israel make up for about 19.5 percent of the country’s population, and 23.5 percent of the nearly 1.8 million and children enrolled in kindergarten through secondary schools (www.cbs.gov.il/reader/shnatonenew.htm). However, most of these children have no or very limited access to music education; as it is a part of state schooling only by name, and private music education is too expensive for most people - onsidering that about 65% of Palestinian Arab children in Israel live under the poverty line (Myers Brookdale, March 2012).
Therefore we have decided to reach out to more children, and enable more children to be creative, express themselves and find the music in them. And this is what we will do:
- Train more teachers to work in creative music ways as demonstrated by our partners from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – a small result can be seen here
- Establish a network of community music groups throughout the Galilee
- Based on constant evaluation, develop a model on how creative, practical music education can be part of the everyday school schedule – and without excessive amount of money
That sounds fairly easy, but obviously we know there will be many challenges on the way. Even more important than what is why this will work:
- Based on our previous AACT projects, we learned that group work is most effective when reaching out to children from at-risk backgrounds
- The Creative Learning methodology provides us with a whole new approach to music education, one that includes participants as creators rather than recipients
- This concept allows us to build capacities that will stay with us, and make creative music a sustainable and long-term part of our work
And our aspired results?
Over the course of three years, we strive to:
- Train 15 teachers in creative music education methodology
- Reach out to over 450 children
- Develop a sound and practical concept for creative music at schools – one that could potentially reach over 30,000 Palestinian school children in Israel over time
That is our dream – we want to give every child the opportunity to make music. For a first step, we will work with our partners from the Barbican/ Guildhall School – Creative Learning on training the teachers we will need – already in the field and within community music workshops at schools.
You can help us make this happen. Thank you for all your support, our work would not be possible without great people like you.
The last three months – even though some of it summer holiday – have been packed with work and events.
The last two weeks of June saw our end-of-the-year concerts. With 363 students in the academic year 2012/13 the Conservatory is now holding we cannot feature all in one final concert.
A special part of one of the concerts was the performance of the two creative music groups led by Ashton Mills from the Clamor Sound Project. The craziest band ever, guys!
This is how it worked in that creative music workshops. And that is how it’s performed.
Students absolutely loved working with Ashton and trying out the new, creative ways - and we all miss him dearly! A huge thank you all your work from all Beit Almusica!
In addition to the Beit Almusica groups, Ashton also supported us in bringing creative music making to schools. Each school would have one intensive week of music workshops that mounted in a special performance at the respective schools in Shefa’amr and Eibellin.
Our main final concert was a huge success. All visitors, students, teachers, parents and supporters said there was a clear step forward even compared to last year’s concert. But why describe? Just make up your own mind with a taste from the festive concert 2013.
We’re also very proud to announce that five students successfully finalized their matriculation exams in music, all reaching excellent grades. You can listen to one of the graduates here. This is the place to say thank you to all those who supported us through all this time, to the students for their hard work and dedication, to the parents for their support and back up, to the teachers for their hard work and to you for helping us in making it possible.
Beit Almusica is currently undergoing a strategic planning, and we will not continue the AACT project in its current form. Based on comprehensive evaluation and consultation we decided to develop another project strategy that would allow us to bring more music to more Palestinian children.
You can help us in achieving that – and we will keep you posted! Thank you for all your support, much of our work would not be possible without great people like you.
Update: May 2013
As it is, we are moving slowly, but steadily towards the end of our current academic year, we still have about a month to go.
So, what’s it been like in numbers? Or: what has your support enabled us to do?
100 students were given full and partial scholarships based on their families’ socio economic situation and their musical development, 10 of them from the AACT students of 2012. .
75,000 ILS (around 20,800 US$) have been raised from various sources to enable these children to learn music and express their creativity.
22 students take part in the creative learning groups with Ashton Mills and the Clamour Sound Craft – and another 120 (at least) are still to participate over June/ July.
About 2200 students watched our performances “Beethoven at Beit Almusica” introducing elementary school children to classical music which is running as part of the cultural program by the Ministry of Education; and our latest performance “Musiqana” (‘our music in Arabic ’) on styles and history of Arabic music.
A lot of time and efforts have been put forward to promote and upgrade our scholarship program and the instruments’ scholarship for students – as many students are not able to purchase good quality instruments for themselves. All these efforts are starting to show first fruits, and we look forward to giving more children the opportunity to develop their creative talents at Beit Almusica.
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work in 2013/2014 and beyond and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources.
Please tell five of your friends about this project, post it on your face book and tell your family and friends about it. Even the smallest support from you can make a huge difference in the lives of these children. Thank you!
There is great a lot of great news since our last update.
First of all, we are happy to welcome 12 children of the latest AACT project as regular students of Beit Almusica in flute, qanoun, clarinet, oud, violin and cello. These are but a few of the children we would love to have with us. Every additional support means an additional opportunity for more children to get back to the instruments!
Second, we are more than happy to welcome a volunteer starting March 2013, who will be working with us in creative music. Ashton Mills is a graduate of the Guildhall School for Music and Drama, who visited Beit Almusica last March. Following the experience here, with the AACT children at schools, he decided to set up his own charity – the Clamour Sound Craft.
Clamour Sound Craft is a six month music-making project for young Palestinians. By bringing a participatory musical space to isolated and under-resourced communities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the project aims to nurture confidence and solidarity among participating groups, and to channel some of the tension of instability into positively rebuilding a world using sound. As part of an ongoing process of research into applied composition, Clamour Sound Craft will practically investigate the role of music in cultural reconstruction. This project will work in partnership with Beit Almusica, who upholds the cultural rights of Palestinians by creating opportunities to study and play music.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming Ashton here – and we know that the kids at school are already awaiting him eagerly. And they are still singing those songs from almost a year ago…
Since the ending of the previous round of the AACT we have been working on an improved version of the project – with more creative music at schools, and much more group work. This has been one of the major positive feedbacks from the children, the teachers and the family. One of the teachers said: “The work at school just puts the whole school in a different atmosphere. It changes the whole relation between teacher and student when you have the opportunity to get together in such a positive and creative framework. And, we teachers deserve some fun, too…”
Why do we teach music?
This is one question we have been asked more than once throughout the project year by the children and their families. The answer to could be either very complex or very simple, but one answer clearly came out as a result of this project: because it makes the world – and life - a little better.
After the music teaching and the social empowerment sessions came to an end with the summer holidays, our internal work just started. The aim was to reach a comprehensive understanding of the impact and achievements of this project; as well as its points for improvement.
Feedback regarding the social impact of the AACT project was collected from students, school teachers, music teachers and families through interviews and questionnaires. In addition to that, all the data related to the music education: attendance rates and musical development was collected and analyzed.
Based on the data, we can certainly state some facts:
1. The project was very successful in terms of attendance 86 out of the 100 children participated in the project till the end - average dropout rates for this kind of projects is at 25%.
2. The attendance for the music lessons in average is at 78%.
3. The artistic/ musical evaluation for the individual development of each student is at 85 out of 100.
4. There is a clear and significant improvement in how the children see themselves, and in the way they interact with their surroundings. Due to the short period of time (10 months) this effect is small, and we would have to continue at least another two years to make a valid statistic statement.
But these are of course only the dry numbers. One story might tell all the rest. Two of our students, two lovely third graders, were studying oud (Arab lute) since the beginning of the project, making great progress. After the school year was finished, the two – and their families – were so happy with the music, they absolutely wanted to continue. The oud teacher of the two girls, Saied Silbak, volunteered to continue teaching them throughout the summer without fee. During the summer, and after a lesson of 60 minutes, one of the girls simply refused to leave and stop the lesson. She absolutely insisted on continuing, saying that the music gives her a good feeling and something to do, distracting her from the fact that there is not much to do around in the summer holidays...and since then, both of the girlsl are now regular students of Beit Almusica with a partial scholarship - also provided with your help.
We currently work on ensuring project support for another year, again with an improved concept including more group work and more creative music making. Regardless of that, we were able to secure support for 12 of the most talented children to keep on learning music at Beit Almusica.
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work in 2012/2013 and beyond and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources. Please tell five of your friends about this project, post it on your face book and tell your family and friends about it. Even the smallest support from you can make a huge difference in the lives of these children. Thank you!
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