Friday, May 14, 2010

Children Fight Off Israel With Music

By Eva Bartlett

"....."Even if they've never played an instrument, they can have the chance to learn. We test their ear: can they hear and hum a melody? And we test their rhythm: can they replicate a rhythm?"

Mahmoud Kohail, 8, has studied the qanoon for just under a year, but took first prize in a Palestine-wide competition in oriental music for ages 7 to 11.

"Everyone asked me how many years he had been studying," laughs Najjar. "When I told them it had been only 80 hours, they couldn't believe me."

Emad Kohail, Mahmoud's father, is an accomplished oud player, and his mother a talented singer. Also a doctor of mental health and alternative medicine, Emad Kohail explains how music has helped his son.

"Mahmoud suffered the same post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that nearly all Gaza's children suffer, as well as an attention deficit disorder," he says.

"Music has made an immense difference in Mahmoud's behaviour. It has been a therapy for his PTSD and as a means of teaching him to focus."

Ibrahim Najjar agrees that music is therapy, and constructive for children's learning and mental health.

"There is a big difference in the students' behaviour from when they first came. Now, they are calmer, and listen and respect each other. I teach them this, but also to behave like this in all aspects of their lives."....."

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