After several weeks of internal preparations we finally got to actually start our project work with the consent of the schools and the Ministry of Education representatives.
School were asked to prepare lists of 40 students from grades 3-5 fitting into the previously set criteria of children at risk. During four auditioning days conducted by two teams of Beit Almusica teachers and graduates, over 180 children were auditioned. From these 100 participants were accepted for the AACT project: 25 from each of the four schools. Due to the lists provided by the schools, and the results of the auditions, the AACT project features a majority of girls.
In consideration of the wishes of the children and following the recommendations of the music teachers, the students were disseminated onto the different instruments: oud, durbaka, qanoun, violin, cello, clarinet, and flute. Each student group from each school features all instruments available.
Professional teachers for all instruments were recruited, and received guidance and explanation as for the nature of the project and its aims and the specific challenges faced by these children.
Even before the actual teaching started, all AACT children and four teachers from each school were invited to visit one of the concerts of the “oud Days Festival” of Beit Almusica held in November/ December 2011.
For many of the children it was the first time ever to hear and see live music, and they went home with many new impressions. One of the principals reported that the kids continued to sing and clap hands all the way home.
And then, on the 05.12.2011 the music lessons finally started. It had been quite a challenge to itegrate the 100 AACT students into the regular schedule of the conservatory already featuring over 400 students, but the professional team at Beit Almusica did a great job! At that time, also the social empowerment meetings for the AACT kids started at the schools, conducted and organized by our project partner Duroob.
Of course, not everything is easy, and there are many challenges. Sometimes children start and do not want to continue, or parents take them out. Some need support in transportation, and with some we cannot communicate directly, only via the school. For many situations we do find solutions, for some we do not. It is a complex project within a complex reality.
First feedbacks from our music teachers were overwhelmingly positive. One was saying that she teaches at many different places where parents pay a lot of money to have their kids learn music, but the AACT kids are amazingly motivated, concentrated and looking forward to learn and make music. It is like water to the desert.
This was also the impression of Ms. Preetha Naranayan from the Guildhall School of Music who conducted a workshop for creative learning for a group of students from the project on the 23.12.2011. Students and teachers were great participants, and we certainly hope to do this again! Lots of thanks to Preetha and Guildhall for doing this workshop with us!
And with this we went into the holidays, and just came back on the 9th of January 2012.
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 2011/2012 and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources.