Culture plays a vital role in defining and promoting awareness of personal identity, as well as fostering understanding and collaboration across national boundaries. Broad as well as specialized knowledge, professional mobility, and networking between cultural players are indispensable for creating a more fluid and vibrant cultural scene in the Euro-Mediterranean region. For many, however, mobility has become increasingly difficult. The Music Conservatory Project offers a platform for discussion and exchange among leading organizations in advanced music education and an inclusive partnership that will work toward the development of joint cultural activities across the Mediterranean.
We define integration as a process of developing agreements and other tools in order to increase
regional collaboration and foster greater understanding of advanced music training of
children aged 3 – 18 years. Integration will lead to a wider recognition of music studies and
qualifications, and will facilitate the mobility and employability of students, teachers and professionals
This is not simply a matter of improving technical procedures, but also of providing advanced
infrastructure and more up-to-date information about advanced music education. Moreover,
exchanging information on quality assurance and accreditation procedures is essential to the development of mutual trust and effective recognition of qualifications.
Beit Almusica (BM) and the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM)are unique in their dedication to the development of Arabic music. Our proposed initiative will provide a strategic framework that will enhance the capability of both institutions to protect and promote Palestinian cultural heritage and expression. For the first time, both leading music organizations will share a coherent strategic visiofor the development of Arabic music education
A Special Note About The Arabic Music
Until the beginning of the 20th century, the music repertoire and music education were largely based on aural tradition, i.e., passed on to younger generations by ear, through personal music teaching. The use of Western musical notation to document Arabic music dates only to the 1940s. When the first music academies and schools were established, there was no educational approach or curriculum for teaching Arabic music, which led institutions to adopt and adapt the same
teaching methods used for Western classical music. Arabic music is based on individual interpretations of musical compositions, rather than on strict adherence to musical texts. Arabic music is similar to Jazz in that it allows plenty of room for musicians to develop creativity and selfexpression through improvisation. With this Western influence on teaching Arabic music, much of the essence and uniqueness of Arabic music was lost and teaching methodologies failed to meet the needs of teachers and students. This has created strong discrepancies in the teaching of Arabic music in the region and led to the fragmentation of a cultural heritage shared by Arab countries and communities around the world. Furthermore, it has caused confusion and other obstacles for students and teachers studying and working in different music schools, academies and institutions for higher music education. Today, there is no unified method for teaching Arabic music in the Arab world and no significant effort to develop one. The development of adequate teaching approaches, curricula and teaching materials suitable for the study of Arabic music at advanced academic levels is long overdue. Because of this, our project will put special emphasis on the development and integration of the Arabic music departments at
both conservatories. Arabic music is part of the neglected cultural heritage of the Palestinian people and the Arab world in general. It is threatened by a globalized world in which many stakeholders treat traditional Arabic music as inferior to classical Western music. We see this project as a great opportunity for achieving for a significant impact on the preservation and development of Arabic music.
Our project is based on employing complementary intervention strategies such as integration, development, preservation of cultural heritage, exchange and cooperation, to strengthen the synergy between different components of the project and to create a strong basis for sustainable development and the flow of benefits to the target groups and beneficiaries. We have identified four key strategic areas:
Teaching material development and ICTs:
This will consist of a wide range of interactive tools capitalising on the experience of the ESNCM publication and production units over the past 10 years. Software and audio-visual materials will be developed, produced and put at the disposal of teachers and students. This includes multi-media master teaching materials that will guide students through the learning process of an aural tradition and employ interactive multimedia approaches to capture the essence and uniqueness of Arabic Music. These new teaching materials, utilizing new information technologies, will represent a breakthrough in the teaching of music traditions. They will be launched with an extensive marketing effort, and will be made available to other institutions in the region. Additionally, the teaching materials will be accessible through free web applications, which can be used to create effective online learning sites. Our initiative will make these
new educational resources accessible to the entire Arab-speaking world.
Arabic music teachers often lack pedagogical backgrounds and are limited by lack of peer exchange and mobility. Many are weak when it comes to teaching creative learning, analysis and the aesthetics of self expression, as well as performance techniques and interpretations. There is a notable lack of women recognized for performing or teaching Arabic music worldwide. Our proposed teacher development methods focus on pedagogical, creative and interactive tools, with a special emphasis on developing female teachers. The proposed seminars will address resource gaps and will establish new approaches to Arabic music teaching. Training manuals and curricula yielded from these seminars can be used, sustained and developed for future training. The expertise in interactive learning of the Guildhall Schools will be utilised as well. Moreover, a joint training program for new teachers of Arabic music will be developed and implemented.
Building Infrastructure, Unity and Management Capabilities
The discrepancy between the music institutions’ expertise, available resources and management capabilities requires a comprehensive methodology for developing and building capabilities at various levels. A program of culture training for management staff at both ESNCM and BM are essential in order to ensure sustainable development in the cultural sector. Development of management skills and the introduction of clearer structures and policies are a crucial element of the project. Without involving decision makers or laying the groundwork for improved management, sustainable change cannot be achieved. Building an Arabic music department as well as enhancing the music library at BM will enhance BM’s role in the professionalization of Arabic music teaching.
Cooperation and Exchange:
Capitalizing on a joint collaboration between the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and BM, four exchange programs will take place. These programs will be instrumental in promoting cultural dialogue, bringing people with diverse backgrounds together and demonstrating the positive impact of cultural diversity and openness. Sharing of information, musical experiences and knowledge, along with joint artistic productions and cultural cooperation projects involving all partner organizations, are a pivotal aspect of the project and will serve as a strong base for future artistic and professional development. Creative collaboration between students through exchange, community work, forums, regular meetings throughout the year and via the web portal, is crucial to cementing the cooperation of the partners and to further promoting regional and international cooperation.
Interactive software for teaching improvisation (Maqam) and traditional ensemble (Takht), as well as a CD-Rom for the teaching of Arabic percussions will be published. This will include pilot testing on a focus group, a marketing and visibility campaign, launching of an operating and functioning online site that includes learning material (such as Moodle). 20 Arabic teachers will significantly improve their teaching skills and specialized knowledge and 5 new Arabic teachers (mostly women) will be trained. Curricula, teaching materials and a joint training framework for both BM and ESNCM will be developed. Institutional infrastructure will be developed, including building databases and curricula, and evaluating current systems in place. A music library at BM will be established and clear policies developed. An Arabic music department at BM will be established.
4 leading staff members of BM and ESNCM will be trained in advanced management skills and will develop their capabilities in administrative and culture management. Roadmaps for institutional development for both the short and long term at both music institutions will be developed. Two yearly exchange programs with advanced students from all three partner organizations will be developed and implemented, including a one-week visit to the UK and a one week visit to Palestine/Israel.
The Music Conservatory Project will produce joint artistic creations composed and performed in front of local audiences.
A forum of experts and a joint web portal will be established.
Beit Almusica (The House of Music)
Beit Almusica was established as a non-profit organization (NGO) in 1999 with the mission of promoting the cultural rights of the Palestinian minority in Israel, enriching society through the development of the musical scene, creating prospects for artists and interacting with other cultures through music. In 2008, Beit Almusica consolidated its organizational development and expansion that witnessed an important boost in 2004 when we were awarded official recognition as a music conservatory and in April 2007, when we moved to a twostory modern building in Shefa-Amer offering basic infrastructure for professional musical education. Our new premises are set up to receive 500 students, have a concert hall that can host around 180 people and contain 15 special classrooms for teaching music. Today, Beit Almusica is one of the most renowned music centers in Israel, serving more than 10,000 beneficiaries every year. The establishment of the first Arab conservatory in Israel in 2004 was a milestone. Since then, hundreds of children from all over the Galilee have enrolled in our different programs and have produced excellent performances. Other flagship programs include a yearly music festival and a community outreach program. Beit Almusica is a unique organization because it offers Arabic and Classical western music education and targets the Palestinian community in a culturally sensitive way.
Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
The ESNCM is a Palestinian music conservatory with branches in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nablus. Altogether, it has over 714 students. It was established in 1993 as The National Conservatory of Music, with its first branch in Ramallah, which opened in October of that year. In September 2004, as a tribute to the Palestinian-American scholar and accomplished classical pianist Edward Said, the name of the conservatory was officially changed to its current name. Each branch of the ESNCM has its own academic director and administrative manager, who handle the day-to-day operations of the different branches. The current setup creates room for the possibility of opening new branches, while still guaranteeing the same level of education and services to the students and community of each ESNCM branch. Branches in Gaza and in Jericho are scheduled to open next year.
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
The Barbican/Guildhall-School Creative Learning Department
The modern Guildhall-School is distinctive as being the only major European conservatory that is both a music school and a drama school, and is pre-eminent in technical theatre, professional development and music therapy. Since its founding in 1880, the Guildhall School has stood as a vibrant showcase of the City of London Corporation’s commitment to education and the arts. Situated in the heart of London, the school moved to its present premises in the Barbican in 1977. The Barbican/Guildhall School Creative Learning Department was formed in October 2009, bringing together the work of Guildhall Connect and the Barbican Education Department. The department builds on the work and reputation of both departments and aims to shape and deliver successful approaches to the engagement with the arts, involving people of all ages, across a diverse range of styles, genres and disciplines. Through collaborative work, the Guildhall School and Barbican Centre reaches out to diverse audiences demonstrating the value of the arts to all communities. It provides a facilitative and collaborative environment for students, leaders and professional artists to exchange, create, and perform. Embracing technology, research and collaborative partnerships, the Creative Learning division is an unrivalled art and learning center in the city of London.
“The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of “Beit Almusica Shefa’amr (R.A.) and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.”