Orchestrating a Better Future for West Bank Preschoolers

April 12, 2011 ANERA
Early Childhood Development, Education, Music and the Arts, West Bank
Showing children the difference between an oud and guitar at the Bethlehem Governmental Preschool; music class is an important part of ANERA's early childhood development programming in the West Bank. Buran shows children the difference between an oud and guitar at the Bethlehem Governmental Preschool

All curious eyes were on the musical instruments slowly emerging, one by one, from the red bag of music instructor, Buran Saada. The children jumped from their places with excitement, all wanting to touch and experiment with the tambourines, chimes, drums, shakers, rattles, triangles, marimbas, xylophones, etc.

At four preschools in Nablus and Bethlehem, more than 80 children aged between three and five participated in a music workshop sponsored by ANERA’s ARTS for CHILDHOOD initiative.

More than 80 children and 23 teachers at four preschools  in Nablus and Bethlehem benefited from the art and music workshop.

ARTS for CHILDHOOD is part of the Early Childhood Development program ANERA initiated in the West Bank. It is built on the fundamental pedagogical principles that schools should be safe, the educational process should be child-centered, and parents should be involved.

“Child development specialists recognize the critical importance of arts and music in early years,” explains Sulieman Mleahat, education program manager. “Art and music are essential for the cognitive development of children – they are not a luxury. They support healthy brain development and encourage active learning amongst children.”

Playing a tambourine for the first time, this preschooler is enjoying his music class, part of ANERA's early childhood development program in the West Bank.

A serious new musician playing the tambourine.

Buran is an experienced music trainer and educator from Al Mada, a Ramallah-based arts organization. Her choice to study musicology stemmed from her passion for music and her desire to work with children. “I was interested in specializing in musical education and therapy because there are very few specialists in those fields. It’s as though my peers and I are taking it upon ourselves to develop it.”

At the beginning of each workshop, with her guitar and soothing voice, Buran bid the preschoolers of Bethlehem and Nablus “good morning” and got them started on a song and ice-breaking exercises.

Soon enough, music filled the preschools. Like showers of different sounds, the children began clinking, shaking, striking, and pounding, all at the same time, each with their own instrument, imitating the fall of heavy rain. When Buran raised her hand, the percussion dwindled to a complete halt; the sun is back! The children then took turns at holding the stick that carried a picture of a yellow sun on top, and the butterflies that flew around basking in the warmth of the sun. The children sang to the butterflies and flowers as Buran played a soft tune on her guitar.

Children weren’t the only ones enjoying the sessions; 23 teachers from the four preschools also participated in their own music workshop to help them integrate more music into the classroom.

Mothers were invited towards the end of each session to join in the fun. Children’s faces lit up as they saw their mothers walk in the room and many didn’t hesitate to teach them the moves of the dance Buran had taught them, or help them out with the lyrics of a song.

By the end of the workshop everyone was having a great time. Seeing their children use musical instruments harmoniously and dance together in such confidence and bliss was certainly a proud moment for the mothers to witness.

About Al Mada

Al Mada is an arts-based community development association which is based in Ramallah, Palestine. Founded in 2009, Al Mada uses the arts to promote education, self-expression, empowerment, and well-being. Al Mada believes that the arts provide a space and platform where individuals can express, create and heal. It promotes music and the arts as powerful tools that individuals and groups can use to advocate for their concerns and rights.

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