Piano student Dina Massad studying at the NMC
The National Music Conservatory (NMC) of the King Hussein Foundation has welcomed a new class of more than 170 students and 26 instructors at the preparatory level in addition to the students enrolled in its bachelor’s program through Yarmouk University.
It’s a new season at the NMC where Mohammed Othman Sidiq took over the helm as Acting Director on September 1, 2012.
A pianist, composer, and conductor, Sidiq received his Master’s degree in Music from Gnesins State Academy of Music in Moscow-Russia.
Sidiq says he’s looking forward to helping the Conservatory build on the progress already made in advancing the standard of music education in Jordan.
“We want to continue to raise the standard of music education in the Conservatory,” he explained during a recent interview in his office. “We want the Conservatory to reach an international level where we can compare it with any conservatory in the world.”
He added that this year the Conservatory plans to increase the number of student class concerts so that every two months each teacher will have concerts.
The NMC will also hold three big concerts a year, providing all students with the chance to perform and the Conservatory will continue sending students and instructors to participate in international festivals.
On Saturday, October 20th the NMC held a “Welcome Day” in order to provide parents with an opportunity to dialogue about ways to improve the educational experience of their children who are studying at the Conservatory. Raising enrollment is also part of the Conservatory’s strategy.
Percussionist Rayyan Kasawani at the NMC
Sidiq remarks that the Conservatory has just launched its own Facebook page entitled, “NMC JORDAN” in order to help keep families updated on the very latest classes, workshops, and concerts.
In January the NMC will be introducing a new faculty member, Terra Merrill, Director of the Music Therapy Program at Eastern Michigan University, who will begin teaching Music Therapy at the NMC, the only institution in the Arab world to offer coursework in this field.
Another new development at the Conservatory involves an outreach program to communities in Umm Quttain in eastern Jordan and North Shunah in northern Jordan as part of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation’s Poverty Pockets Empowerment Program.
While still in the planning stages, the goal is to establish local musical groups in underserved communities.
“Our idea was to develop music groups in these areas where they can provide Arabic music for local celebrations, cutting down on the costs associated with having to invite musicians from outside the community,” Sidiq explained.
The other goal of the program would be to help young people develop their own musical abilities on Arabic instruments including the Qanuun, the Oud, and the Rabbaba.
As an example Sidiq relates the story of how the NMC formed choirs with young students from UNRWA schools, a monumental task considering the kids had no background in music.
“It’s like we came from Mars,” he noted describing the audition process they went through with the students at the very beginning of the program.
However over the course of the year Sidiq says the kids underwent a remarkable transformation, exhibiting behavior which reflected a new sense of self-respect.
“They feel that they are part of the community,” he said. “In the past they thought they were forgotten people and were worth nothing, and it’s better to stay in the streets but now when they perform onstage singing and they hear the applause and are given flowers and they appear on TV and on You Tube. It makes them really a different people, so that’s what music can do. It’s a very powerful weapon to educate the community.”
Sidiq hopes the success of the first outreach to the UNWRA schools will be replicated in the other communities they are targeting.
The long time conductor adds he has not given up on the idea of restoring a national orchestra. He hopes to one day lift the baton again if enough support can be raised to bring back the Amman Symphony Orchestra, providing Conservatory students with professional opportunities to perform in Jordan again.