Guests, Fun Games and Mask Making!

July 6, 2016

Today was quite eventful, especially for the Arabic Academy who had three guests visiting! Students attended their regularly scheduled classes in the morning and then while the other Academies participated in activity period, the Arabic students listened to a presentation from a representation of the King’s Academy in Jordan. Meanwhile Spanish and German students enjoyed a soccer game, painted masks, swam, etc. 

Later in the evening the Arabic Academy attended a musical performance in which our guests educated students all about Arabic music. They learned about the history of the Arab world and how this influenced the music produced from this region. 

Overall there are more then 100 iqa’at (rhythmic patterns) in arabic music and students learned about the various instruments used to produce these patterns. Some of these included plucked stringed instruments such as the ‘Ud, which was the precursor to both the guitar and the lute, bowed stringed instruments such as the ‘Kaman, hand drums such as the Riqq (similar to a tambourine) and wind instruments. It was fascinating to hear how even familiar instruments to western music, such as the violin, are tuned differently in order to produce a sound particular to Arabic music.

Arabic music has been largely influenced by three traditions of music, Persian, Turkish and African and is traditionally passed down through word of mouth or “oral tradition”. So as opposed to learning to read music, students are taught simply to listen and repeat what they have heard their teacher, Ustaz, or fellow musicians play. Although sometimes it is necessary to use sheet music in this day in age, it was interesting to hear about how the same musical piece may vary from performance to performance when the artists are relying solely on their memory!

These musicians also spoke of the important relationship between the audience and performers and how they will often change their plans mid-performance according to how the audience seems to be responding. It’s very much a “give and take process", one of the performers stated as he spoke to the value of flexibility as an entertainer.

Following the education portion of the presentation, students were able to experience the sound of traditional Arabic music firsthand and actually assisted the musicians with the vocal portion of one piece!

To view part of the performance please visit our official Facebook page: Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy — The Official Page.

Arabic musicians