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Middle Eastern Music & Dance Class

Come and dance with us in our new Middle Eastern Music & Dance class! With playfulness, costumes, and colorful and shiny props, Broadway Babies & Kids’ Teacher Tamsyn leads a lively exploration of classical and popular Middle Eastern music! Kids are invited to connect to the music through rhythm, and get the chance to both hear and play real Arabic percussion instruments. That connection is extended through fun and sensory activities, including dancing, dressing up in jingly, shiny hip scarves, and games. The exotic elements of Middle Eastern culture make for inspired class content!

Brought right here to the heart of San Carlos every Friday morning, Arabic music offers rich avenues for auditory exploration. While western rhythm focuses on the pattern of one sound (i.e. the clap-along beat: dum dum dum), Arabic rhythms have a backbone of two different sounds (dum and tec) with added fill sounds (ka). This means that the same pattern can result in multiple different rhythms that make us *feel* different when we listen or move to them. Some feel heavy, and some are more jumpy. Children pick up on these differences and can learn to hear and respond to changes in rhythm. They also respond to Arabic variations in time signature, with 2/4 rhythms having more get-up-and-go than 4/4 rhythms, and variations of the same pattern stretched over 8 counts instead of 4 (big versus small) feeling more heavy (stomping) than light (hopping).

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Each Arabic music class focuses on a rhythm, which is demonstrated and explored through interactive activities, play and movement. Children with caregivers are encouraged to play rhythms and explore different sounds (dum and tec) with two instruments frequently used in Arabic music – hand drums and finger cymbals. Their curiosity to explore more complex rhythms constantly impresses us!

This process works directly on the development of skills for musical and linguistic mastery: the ability to identify and create specific sounds, the ability to segment sound patterns (i.e., divide these up into smaller units of sound), and the development of sophisticated aural memory and perception.

The rhythmic portion of the class is backed up dancing/movement play that is culturally appropriate to the music, and also works with melody. A feature of Arabic music is that melodies are often easy to identify and played by a single instrument, with different instruments taking turns. This is the result of uneven spacing of semitone notes in Arabic music, such that harmonies frequently don’t sound good and are not played. For children, this provides a wonderful opportunity to pick out the sound of different instruments, and respond to them with movement. A ney (flute) might sound like a snake, for example. An oud (guitar) might be a waking bear, and a quanoon (flat harp-like instrument) might inspire a magic fairy.

The rhythms and music used come from all over the Middle East, including Egypt Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria. This provides a cultural as well as artistic experience, and an uplifting impression of Middle Eastern culture. Gentle and fun exploration encourages respect for diversity, appreciation of other cultures, and social cohesion. Specific dances done in social, celebratory, and spiritual group settings in this region of the world are also introduced, including dabkeh line dancing, tahteeb/assaya cane dance, and the group-healing ritual motions of zar.

We hope you’ll join us for this Middle Eastern Music & Dance Class every Friday at 9:45-10:30am. 

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Keep smiling and singing!

Broadway Babies & Kids Team

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