Paul Calvert spoke with Ahmad Al Azza from Sounds of Palestine.

Ahmad Al Azza
Ahmad Al Azza

Sounds of Palestine is a community music project inspired and based on the concept of El Sistema in Venezuela. This concept uses music education as a medium to achieve long term social change for the children and families involved and has proven to be successful in more than 60 countries all over the world. Paul Calvert spoke with Ahmad Al Azza from Sounds of Palestine to find out more.

Paul: What is Sounds of Palestine?

Ahmad: Sounds of Palestine is a programme within a Swiss organisation located in Bethlehem. Mainly our headquarters is in Beit Sahour and Ramallah. Sounds of Palestine is community music. We mix between teaching music and bringing a social worker to work with our Palestinian kids.

Paul: When were you started and why were you started?

Ahmad: We started in 2011 to give the Palestinian children a chance to have different activities in their life. Especially our target group comes from the disadvantaged children and families, mainly from Palestinian refugee camps, from villages and from poor families.

Paul: Were you originally located in the refugee camps?

Ahmad: We were functioning from one of the refugee camps, but we had to move after a couple of years because we had a bigger number. We also needed a safe location for the children, since we want to give them a different experience in life. They live under the Israel occupation all the time, so they need some kind, nice and safe location. We found a good safe location in the middle of the city.

Paul: What is the aim of your organisation?

Ahmad: The aim of the organisation is to create and produce as much as we can by Palestinian musicians, because we believe that music makes people perceive life and live in a better way.

Paul: Are there many good Palestinian musicians?

Ahmad: There are good Palestinian musicians, but unfortunately we don't have many professional Palestinian musicians because music is not a part of our daily life. Those who learn music learn it as an extra thing and they come from a family who can afford that. Our target group are families who cannot teach their children music, so we offer to teach them for free.

Paul: Is this a place for a child to come and learn how to play an instrument?

Ahmad: This is exactly what we give the child. We give the child the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument and we teach him the theory and give him different activities. We have several instruments; we have cello, double bass, violin, percussion, clarinet and recorder. We give music theory and we give folk law dance and we give extra activities like gardening sometimes.

Paul: Do they give themselves a few years to learn these instruments?