Arab Arts & Culture Course for Educators 2016

Posted On:
05 December, 2015
Past EventsProfessional Development

Our instructors created a safe space for us to take risks and really learn! – Marita, Music Teacher

In July 2016 Al-Bustan is pleased to offer another professional development course for Music and Arabic Language Educators. The course is designed to encourage cross-disciplinary teaching and integrate Arab arts and cultural themes across music and language curricula.

Participants will obtain hands-on training with educational resources on aspects of Arab arts and culture. As past participants have noted the need for more beginner-level material, the course will include a repertoire of songs that can be used for a range of skill-levels, ages, as well as mixed-heritage classrooms. In addition to educational resources, instructors will provide participants with a basic understanding of the literary and musical traditions of the Arab World, with an emphasis placed on Al-Andalus. This thematic focus will tie in to a major project “Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry and Music” that Al-Bustan implemented in 2015 — the material developed for this project will be incorporated in the course.

A sampling of the feedback from previous participants:

The schedule and format of courses was a perfect, well-sequenced combination. I feel that my diverse learning needs were met and I reached a creative peak while continuously integrating new knowledge and understanding. – Andrew, Music & English teacher
This will help to make my language classes more fun, and culturally authentic…I have gained so much knowledge from the musicians and other teachers. – Anne-Marie, Arabic & Spanish Teacher
It was way beyond my expectations maybe because we were directly learning from passionate, skillful, and masterful musicians and expert teachers! – Fatima, Arabic Teacher

Dates: July 11 – 15, 2016

Time: 9:00 am – 5:15 pm, dinner every night followed by optional evening discussions and practice, as well as an evening performance on 7/15. Find full schedule below.

Location: University of Pennsylvania’s Greenfield Intercultural Center, 3708 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Early Bird Fee by May 2, 2016School District of Philadelphia Educators: $100 / Non-SDP Educators: $300 / QFI Arabic-Music Educators: $50

Fees After May 2, 2016: School District of Philadelphia Educators: $125 / Non-SDP Educators: $325 / QFI Arabic-Music Educators: $50

Credits: PA ACT-48 Professional Development Credit available (38.5 to 40.4 credits) – AND – 3 Non-Matriculated Graduate Credits in University of the Arts’ Professional Institute for Educators. Note: For University of the Arts graduate credit, after dinner discussions are required along with a final paper.

Limited spaces available. Register before June 15!
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Don’t miss this opportunity to train with experienced teaching artists and academics!

Please mail completed registration or submit online registration form. Please send check or money order by mail, payable to “Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture”.


Daily Schedule:


Course Content:

  • Arts and cultural history of the Arab world
  • Arab rhythms and their roots in Arabic poetry
  • Appreciation of Arab music by playing/singing/performing with an ensemble
  • Training in developing lesson plans on Arab cultural themes
  • Use of educational tools developed in Al-Bustan Digital Education
  • Hands-on resources to introduce Arab music and culture in classroom settings
  • For Arabic educators: Arabic poetry with methods to teach students through recitation and singing
  • For music educators: small group instrumental instruction and intro to the theory of Arab music

Percussion and Poetry/Singing:
All participants will have one hour of percussion and one hour of learning Arabic poetry through singing. Traditionally, Arab rhythms and poetry are inter-related, as rhythmic patterns were developed based on poetic meters. Music educators gain insight into language and literature by singing and Arabic language educators have the opportunity to understand the relationship between rhythm and poetry by singing and playing percussion.

Music Practice:
Both Music and Arabic language educators come together for at least one hour each afternoon so that instrumentalists and singers can practice the songs they will perform at the culminating concert.

Lead instruction is by Hanna Khoury, Hafez Kotain, Kinan Abou-afach, and Ahmad Almallah with guest lecturers noted below.

Lecture topics:

  • Monday: Contextualizing Al-Andalus in Twentieth Century Performance Practice – Hanna Khoury
  • Tuesday: Lamenting Al-Andalus in the Poetry of the Prince-Prisoner in Aghmāt – Brahim El Guabli
  • Wednesday: Andalusian Culture in the Classroom – Nora Elmarzouky
  • Thursday: Out of Cordoba discussion with Film Director Jacob Bender
  • Friday: Demonstration of Andalusian Dance – Habiba

This program is offered in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and made possible through support and funding from Qatar Foundation International (QFI). and sponsorship by University of Pennsylvania’s Greenfield Intercultural Center and Middle East Center.

A not-for-profit organization, QFI, LLC is a U.S.-based member of Qatar Foundation (QF) and is focused on grant-giving and programmatic activities that promote education as a force that facilitates collaboration across geographical, social and cultural boundaries. To learn more about QFI and the Arab Language and Culture program, visit QFI’s website

For questions, please contact Al-Bustan.

Lead Instructors:
Al-Bustan’s Music Program is directed by Hanna Khoury since 2009. A recipient of the prestigious 2010 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Khoury is a violinist trained in the classical traditions of Arab and Western music. He leads the choir and instrumental sections of the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble class offered in partnership with University of Pennsylvania, and teaches choir and music skills in an after-school program at a public elementary school, in addition to collaborating with various youth and professional choirs. He has collaborated and performed with major artists including Lebanese superstar Fairuz, Iraqi singer Kazem Al-Saher, Grammy winner Youssou N’Dour, Algerian singer Cheb Khaled, and Tony Award winner Mandy Patinkin. In addition, Khoury can be heard on several pop songs including Grammy nominated song Beautiful Liar (featuring Beyoncé and Shakira) and Love and Compassion (featuring Paula Cole and Kazem Al Saher). He recorded strings for Shakira’s Grammy performance of Hips Don’t Lie. Khoury collaborated with musician/composer Kareem Roustom on multiple projects, including recording strings for award-winning films Amreeka, Budrus, Encounter Point, and the PBS documentary Mosque in Morgan Town. A recipient of the America-Israel Scholarship and Qattan Foundation Award, Khoury graduated magna cum-laude with departmental honors from UCLA with Bachelors in Economics and Music Performance and obtained his Master’s Degree in Music from Temple University. He is currently a Phd candidate in Ethnomusicology at University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Music.

Hafez Kotain, a master percussionist, is fluent in both Arab and Latin rhythms — a fluency he honed in his native countries of Syria and Venezuela. He is a recipient of the prestigious 2013 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, which is awarded each year to 12 Philadelphia artists who are of exemplary talent. Kotain began studying the doumbek in Syria at the age of seven, first performed on stage at age nine, and went on to study with master Syrian percussionist Hady Jazan, winning the national percussion competitions in Syria for five consecutive years. In Venezuela he studied percussion at the TMV Institute for Music in Valencia, where he also taught a variety of percussion styles blending Arab and Latino music to youth. Kotain has performed with Lebanese composer/musician Marcel Khalife and Al Mayadine Ensemble in their latest US and Canada tour for “Fall of the Moon: An Homage to the Poet Mahmoud Darwish.” He has also toured with Syrian singer George Wassouf in Canada and the US, and has performed in Philadelphia with acclaimed artist Sting and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Throughout the year Kotain teaches with Al-Bustan in various school and community-based programs, including a summer camp for youth and a weekly course in percussion at the University of Pennsylvania.

Kinan Abou-afach is a Syrian-born cellist and composer. He is a recipient of the prestigious 2013 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, which is awarded each year to 12 Philadelphia artists who are of exemplary talent. Abou-afach began his musical studies at the age of seven and received his first degree in cello and oud performance in the music preparatory program of the Arabic Institute of Music in Damascus. He completed a Bachelors degree in cello performance with a minor in oud performance from the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus. He has performed as a soloist with various orchestras in the Arab region and participated in master-classes with Francoise Baduell, Federico Romano, Yo-Yo Ma, and members of Alban Berg Quartet. Abou-afach moved to Chicago in 2000 to obtain his master’s degree at the DePaul University School of Music. He studied under Stephen Balderston, assistant principal of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section, and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for several years. Abou-afach is also an active composer, writing music influenced by Eastern and Western traditions. Some of his film scores include original soundtracks “The Long Night” by Hatem Ali; “Where We Stood” by Blake Beckstrom; and for the Theater/Dance “Jondo Portraits” by choreographer Wendy Clinard. His recent compositions include “Roads to Damascus,” a 52-minute composition commissioned by Al-Bustan and premiered in February 2013 at the Arab Music Concert Series in Philadelphia, “Sand, Land, and Metal,” commissioned by LiveConnections and dedicated to classical guitarist Jason Vieaux, and a 20-minute Andalusian-inspired piece commissioned in 2015 by Al-Bustan.