Renowned violinist teaches music to Syrian kids

Layth Sidiq has found worldwide fame with his musical talent.

And now he’s going back to his Middle Eastern roots.

But today, his audience isn’t the usual crowd found in concert halls – he’s playing for Syrian refugee children in the Bekaa Valley.

The leading violinist and composer, who now lives in the US, has come here to share his love of music with youngsters who rarely get the chance to learn about the arts.

Sidiq wants to help them understand Arabic music as well as identify with their culture and traditions.

“As an artist I feel there is a responsibility I have to give back to my community, you know me being from the Middle East, from Iraq and Jordan. I feel very strongly about music being a part of every child’s upbringing,” he says.

The children involved are just 12 of the 600 children attending the school in Majdan Anjar village.

It’s a privately funded school built by the Kayani Foundation, a Lebanese non-profit organisation which started working with the Syrian community in Lebanon in 2014.

They follow the Lebanese curriculum, which does not include music lessons. So this is where Sidiq steps in.

For most, it’s the first time they’ve learned about rhythms, banged on a drum, or even sang a melody they would instantly recognize as belonging to their own tradition.

Sidiq is teaching a song he says is well known across the Middle East and is sung and played in the various Arabic dialects, as well as in other languages such as Turkish and Armenian.

He has also able to obtain funds from two US universities in Boston, where he now lives.

The Tufts University of the Berklee College of Music donated the money for the drums, so that the children could learn how to play an instrument.

Known as derbekkeh in Arabic, the drums were bought in Syria – a way to reaffirm the identity of those uprooted from their country.

Sidiq hopes that learning music will give the children something useful for their future, as well as a way to handle their current circumstances:

“I think for them it functions as an escape, somehow, as a way to find hope and inspiration and getting out of where they are, and it will work hand in hand with their education.”

And as Sidiq plays his instrument, surrounded by children in the school courtyard, it’s clear he’s inspiring a new generation to embrace the music.

(Source: AP)

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