Amwaj (the Arabic name for ‘Waves’) is a choir school in Palestine, or rather a network of schools, that offers varied activities involving choral singing, voice training, foreign languages, music theory, conducting, introduction to piano and percussions, theatre and more.
The objective of Amwaj is to provide quality music instruction to a vast number of children. What is offered goes beyond music initiation since it is, in fact, a high-level professional training. The children attend Amwaj after school and benefit from a musical and artistic programme strongly linked to their country.
There is no prerequisite for acceptance: any child can join, provided they commit to the group project and activities with regularity. The selection is therefore uniquely based on the child’s interest, commitment and progress.
The project is also aimed at identifying young people who might be interested in training to become music tutors within Amwaj or music teachers in regular Palestinian schools. This aspect of the project will be studied and developed in conjunction with the Palestinian Ministry of Education.
The pilot scheme started in August 2015 in Hebron, a town suffering from colonisation at its heart and isolated from other Palestinian towns, resulting in a society which is closed within itself. Too few cultural projects are currently developed there.
Further activities began in October 2015 in Bethlehem, at a cultural centre attended by children from towns, villages and refugee camps of that governorate.
Today, 60 children follow the entire program with regularity.
The project initiators and other teaching staff are professional musicians with extensive teaching experience in both Palestine and Europe.
Amongst the pedagogical principles adopted within the choir school project:
1. The teaching is based on a collective experience, with individual vocal attention provided so as to ensure that each student is well integrated and contributes at her/his best towards the group.
|2. The duality Western singing / Arabic
singing ranges throughout a variety of musical styles. The choir
school is a place of cultural exchange and language discovery.
Alongside Palestinian songs, the children sing traditional songs
from numerous countries in the original languages.
Program of Concert, 27 February, 2016 ... Program of Concert, 23 April, 2016.
3. Starting from monophonic singing (be it a cappella or accompanied), polyphony is gradually introduced through canons, drone polyphony and parallel polyphony, reaching the inclusion of songs with two voices of equal texture.
|4. Little by little, the children of the choir school will be led to reading music. The teaching of music theory is introduced gradually, from the choral repertoire, without any pre-established model but inspired by different methods (the theoretical and pedagogical interest of each chosen song is evaluated and documented by the teaching staff).|
|5. The Amwaj program
includes drama activities, with theatre workshops taking place
twice a month in each branch. These workshops allow the children
to acquire stage presence skills via body knowledge and
expression. Workshops embracing other art forms (poetry, dance,
writing, etc.) are also envisaged.
students of the choir school participate in a group project:
ensemble work is at the core of this pedagogical project.
They receive voice coaching attention in small groups of 2 or 3 (correct usage of their voice).
Starting from an oral practice, the young singers are gradually introduced to notation (both musical notation and foreign languages).
The choral activities are linked to other art forms (poetry, theatre, etc…)
Throughout the project, the students develop their creativity, listening skills, aural skills and analytic capacity.