The Joy of Music for Young People in Palestine

July 13, 2012 ANERA
Education, Music and the Arts, West Bank
Kids from the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, in Palestine, pose for the camera. Kids from the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music pose for the camera.

John Sababa is 15 years old and lives in Bethlehem with his mother, father and sister. Thanks to a generous donation from an ANERA supporter, John has been able to pursue his musical talents, along with more than 600 other enthusiastic students.

“When I was 11 years old, my parents realized I am talented in music and they decided to introduce me to the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music,” explains John. He immediately was attracted to the traditional Arabic instrument, known as the Qanoon, (related to the zither). But then, after one year, he also discovered the drums, known in Arabic as Tabla. So for the past four years he has been learning how to play both along with continuing his studies at the American School in Bethlehem.

ANERA supporters have helped sponsor the conservatory for over 20 years.

But tragedy struck his family a year ago when his father was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to stop working. “When all of that happened I decided to leave the conservatory of music because we cannot afford paying them,” he says. But, the conservatory refused let him stop and let him continue his studies this year. “The conservatory means to me everything, because music became in my blood and giving it up would mean giving up my dreams,” John explains. “Music is a different language that interacts with others who play it and defines their feelings. This is why I love to learn music until I master it.”

John, a student at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, sits with his Qanun.

John with his Qanun.

John hopes to find a way to continue his music studies even if he can no longer afford to attend the Conservatory, ‘because I want to learn more and more to achieve my dreams.”

John is just one of the many extremely talented music students at the conservatory, which ANERA has supported for nearly two decades.

Thanks to the additional contribution from an ANERA donor, the school has been able to buy more instruments to meet the increasing number of students enrolled in classes – from pianos and trumpets to saxophones, violins and traditional Arabic instruments.

“Giving up my music would mean giving up my dreams.”

The conservatory describes its goal as “augmenting the impact and quality of its music programs through developing and enhancing its material resources, which eventually will contribute to cultural and musical development in Palestine.” The additional instruments enhance the school’s capacity to train students and develop their orchestras and ensembles as well as provide concerts and musical productions for the community.

ANERA has supported the conservatory for nearly two decades. In 2009, ANERA was able to transport two pianos through the closed borders into Gaza after bombings earlier that year destroyed the conservatory’s small school there. This year, ANERA is delivering several more pianos to help the school in Gaza meet a growing demand for music education.

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