Sarab “Strings of change”

Omer Meir Wellber, Yaki Reuven – Director of the Be’er Sheva Conservatory of Music – and the Bedouin non-profit organization A New Dawn in the Negev have started a joined initiative to establish a quality program of music education for the Bedouins of the Negev – one of the poorest and most discriminated groups within the Israeli society: “Sarab”, meaning Oasis in Arabic, strives to change the social reality of the young Bedouins by providing music education, starting with children in elementary schools.

The initiative just received a remarkable donation from a private foundation and will start with the first music lessons in January 2015.

Phase two will add private lessons and by the end will see the formation of a school wide string orchestra.

The third phase will include a curriculum for students based on Western and Arabic music theory, with a strong emphasis on the Bedouin musical heritage. In order to bring the Bedouin youth closer to their unique heritage, participants will be sent on a special mission, to meet and record their tribe’s musicians. These recordings will help to create an online database of local Bedouin music which is all but extinct.

Phase four will hope to see an ensemble of 30-50 students, who will play both Classical Western music as well as arrangements to Bedouin music with the accompaniment of traditional Bedouin instruments. This ensemble, together with the Be’er Sheva conservatory string orchestra, will form the basis of the Jewish-Bedouin youth symphony orchestra that the Sarab project strives to establish.

The program’s mission: Music is the perfect antidote: Music develops creativity, attentiveness, and appreciation of beauty; it provides a feeling of identity and belonging and brings people together in the aim of achieving a common goal. Music education teaches perseverance concentration and focus; it affects students’ general academic performance and endows them valuable skills that serve them later in life. Moreover, learning to play an instrument is a time consuming task, keeping children out of trouble. Music can be the start of a different, better life for the Bedouin community, and a new basis for establishing a fruitful cooperation and communication between the Bedouin and the Jewish communities.

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