In September 2012 Sounds of Palestine started in the kindergartens of two refugee camps in Bethlehem. Meanwhile nearly 180 children (age 4-5) receive weekly music workshops from experienced music educators. These workshops take place in four kindergartens in Al-Azzeh and Dheisheh refugee camp, Dar Salah, and al-Khas.
During these workshops the children get a chance to empower their social and emotional development. Through singing, percussion, movement and musical games social skills, teamwork and mutual respect is developed.
All workshops are based on the creativity and expression of the children and are attended by a social worker who offers extra social support to the children and their families whenever needed.
Once or twice a year, a large performance is organized in which all the kindergarten children participate. Parents are invited to watch them and receive a glance of the musical activities that their children do during our lessons.
In September 2013, after SoP’s first year in the kindergarten, the oldest kindergarten children entered the first grade. 30 children have applied to join our after-school music program and since then the program expanded every year. In the academic year 2016/17 100 students (grade 1-4) follow the after-school program twice to three times a week. Here, they participate in the orchestra, choir, dabke (Palestinian folklore dance), music theory and instrument lessons such as Arabic percussion, violin, cello, double bass and clarinet. All lessons are attended by social workers who followed a music leadership training of Musicians without Borders. These social workers assist the music teachers, observe the children and intervene when needed. The social workers are in contact with the families of the children and offer them long-term support.
To improve the general health of the children, Sounds of Palestine provides fresh fruit to every participating child twice a week and a home cooked meal once a week.
Several times a year, performances are organized in which our young instrumentalists can perform their musical skills. Parents, family and friends are invited to the concerts and get to see the result of the children’s hard work.
The program plans to expand every year, accepting new children in the kindergartens and continuing with the children graduating to the higher grades in school.
During the long and hot summers, we provide fun and educational activities for the children. A continuation of the music program is a welcome addition to the children’s three months holiday. In addition to the regular activities there is a summer camp in which music is combined with art activities and trips to the swimming pool: for many of the children their only opportunity to swim. Every day is concluded with a healthy home cooked meal, and at the end of the summer camp a performance and exhibition with the children’s art is organized.