CReative Approaches to Music Development
As Sabreen seeks to strengthen the lacking music environment in Palestine and facilitate the holistic development of out peoples, or cultures, and in particular our youth, it has focused on providing quality music education programs in our communities. Sabreen’s music education initiatives are varied, sensitive to the age of the musician, previous musical training, familiarity with music theory, etc, but all share a common vision. All its music education programs strive to employ an active, not passive, learning process in enhancing musical creativity and understanding. This hands-on approach allows for the interaction with ideas and sounds and encourages experimentation and play according not to written memorization but to intuition. It draws upon and nurtures the playful creativity found in all of us.
If we consider music education efforts, we might find that we could choose between the following traditions, the latter forming the essence of Sabreen’s approach:
Classroom and/or community area
One lesson a week and/or concentrated workshops
Hours of daily practice
Lecturers and/or facilitators
Instruction and/or participatory processes
Written scores and/or careful listening
Music and music education in any culture must be rooted in, and grow out of, the music of that culture. Yet at the same time, for it to develop, it needs to incorporate new sounds and attitudes toward other cultures and their music. Thus, Sabreen is active in linking with other artistic groups, governmental and non-governmental organizations and individuals in developing its music education initiatives so as to enable the community to familiarize themselves with the vast and varied music traditions that the world has to offer.
Sabreen’s Music Education efforts include development, coordination, implementation, and evaluation of such outreach programs as the following:
Training programs for music educators, which are geared toward the capacity build up go local music teachers in schools.
Community Music Initiatives, which offer creative alternative music education programs to our local area youth.
Sabreen is sorely aware of the demise in the music environment that existed in Palestine before the occupation, and it seeks to renew and reinvigorate this necessary component of development of the culture of the people.
In order to generate momentum for the development of a music environment from the ground up, Sabreen works with and within the communities in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. During the last three years in particular, Sabreen has worked extensively with youngsters, teenagers, elderly, local community groups, as well as other arts groups to nurture their appreciation of and familiarity with, music and music related theories and concepts.
A culture of music is fostered not necessarily through formal, rigid training in conservatoires but though active participation and interaction with music concepts, and evolves from within communities themselves. Community music usually takes place outside the formal music education sector, with people who may have limited or no other access to music.
In contributing to skill development within people of all ages and walks of life, Sabreen utilizes a hands-on approach and incorporates creative approaches to learning in all models. Methods of instruction follow not the traditional, formulaic models taught by some instructors but stress imagination and experimentation in music.
It is by harnessing our natural curiosity and creativity that people are inspired to play with music- in the same way that a young child plays with language- and then go on intuitively to master its grammar and form. Similarly, a musician, given the right environment, will master the musical tradition in which he/she is raised.
As Sabreen endeavours to bring music to and out from the community in which it works, it has developed and led varied music community programs, such as the following examples:
Conference on mUsic education in Palestine
Held in Ramallah in August 1999, the Conference on Music Education in Palestine brought together professional musicians, government officials, NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations), and music teachers and instructors to discuss music education efforts in Palestine.
They discussed the music education needs of a community in which educational institutions have been subjected to long periods of closure and have been denied a fair chance at development. Under Israeli civil administration, schools in Palestine were not invested in and teachers were denied exposure to newer teaching methodologies. As a result, most teachers have been applying the same educational techniques for decades. The traditional rigid concepts of teaching still prevail in most Palestinian schools.
Participants at the conference identified these old teaching methodologies in terms of the style and approach to music education as one of the major obstacles to reinvigorating the music environment in Palestine. Sabreen participated in the conference, the discussions in which resulted in the proposals of some creative ideas for reinvigorating music education efforts in Palestine, one of which was a Summer Music Camp.
Summer music camp
The 10-day long Summer Music Camp, organized by Sabreen, was held in Bethlehem area in the summer of 2000. Sabreen brought together school teachers, students, and PNA government officials together in a music-oriented program to address the music education needs of the area in general, and address the concerns identified in the Conference on Music Education in Palestine held in 1999.
Sabreen developed the camp to serve as a model to show how music could be combined with other art forms in a creative and resourceful manner, employing participatory techniques. It was an opportunity for students to enhance their creativity and expressiveness, for teachers to develop their training skills and teaching methodologies, and for officials to see how different art forms could be integrated into one program. Additionally, to satisfy the needs in local schools, the camp enabled teachers and officials to see what inexpensive instruments could be made from using local resources to solve the shortage of music instruments in classrooms.
Workshops allowed the children to experiment with sound outside the traditional classroom setting and incorporate music with other art forms, such as painting, poetry, drama and dance. Morning and afternoon sessions were jam packed with fun hands-on learning, playing and experimenting with instruments, sights, and sounds. The last day and its final presentation were the culmination of over a week’s worth of learning, showcased the children’s activities, and brought youth together for a fun production for family, friends, and members of the community.