My central reason for coming to Palestine has been to teach music in schools, community centres and refugee camps in the Nablus area.
The aren’t always music volunteers here and so the classes start and stop as and when someone arrives. That, combined with the Eid holiday that hit in my second week here means that I haven’t actually done as much teaching as I might have expected.
But the teaching I have done has been great. In particular, my lessons twice a week in Balata Village – just next to the Balata Refugee Camp. On Tuesday I said goodbye to the kids for the last time. I don’t think I’ll win any awards for my teaching abilities – let alone my ability to communicate with them in Arabic, but they seemed to enjoy it.
Here’s their final performance of Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
The other musical pursuit that I’ve embraced here has been learning the Oud. It was quite hard to get used to at first but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it. I might be hunting down some Oud teachers when I get back to London. This is me massacring a Palestinian folk song.
My teacher, Aws, was very patient!
I also made friends with an Arabic music group based in Nablus. I’ll always have good memories of sitting with Nidal and Aboud in their flat late at night while they played and sang for us.
On Tuesday we went to a concert at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah where Nidal was playing. It was an evening of music and poetry (I was bullied into reading one of his poems) and the poems of Darwish are certainly on my list of things to checkout in more detail when I get home.
Music is very much alive in Palestine.
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