Saturday, October 5, 2013

For the Love of Music

As many of you may know, both Arie and I are BIG Music Lovers.  We listen to all types of music from hip-hop to jazz to classical to indie rock to folk, and we love going out to see live shows. Our love for music started at an early age for both of us. I started piano lessons at the age of 5 - which continued for 10 years (with my dear grandmother as my tutor and guide), and Arie started piano lessons at the age of 6 - which continued for 12 years. Arie is definitely a better pianist than I am; he has such a good ear and memory! We both played in our school bands - both beginning in the 5th grade.  I was a french hornist for 6 years, while Arie started with the baritone and also played valve trombone, trumpet, and tuba in high school.  We both have also had guitar lessons as young adults, but neither of us became serious.  And we both have also been going to live concerts from an early age - Arie's parents took him to see Prince when he was 8, and my parents took me to see Ray Charles when I was 8!  Ever since then we have been going to see live music all over the world. Aside from our passion for yoga, it was our common love of music, especially seeing live music, that attracted us to each other!

Last summer when we arrived to our desert oasis town of Akka, we were both excited to learn that our youth center had many musical instruments, including a few guitars and a keyboard.  Many of the instruments were in disrepair and in need of some TLC.  Arie picked up one guitar and took it home. All summer long, while we suffered in the desert heat, I was busy in the kitchen advancing my cooking-from-scratch skills and Arie was playing guitar for hours at a time every single day.  By the end of the summer, Arie had multiple songs under his belt, and his strumming technique was getting better! I was thoroughly impressed. 

Once the school year began, Arie was committed to starting a music club.  He began by fixing up all of the guitars.  Out of his own pocket he bought new strings, picks, and even a bridge and some super glue for one guitar.  With the help of a friend in the US, Arie was able to get the electric guitar and small amp up and running too. Then he began private lessons with some of the youth who were eager to learn.  He taught both guitar and piano to any youth who were interested...but if they missed a few lessons, they were out - to make space for other youth wanting the opportunity of learning with Arie.

Arie wants to make this music program sustainable. Our community now knows what he has been doing at the youth center, and some members are interested in getting involved.  The best part is that the elementary school wants Arie to help them start a music program at the school. Arie hopes to teach a few teachers how to play and teach basic music to the students.  He also hopes to add to the number of working instruments at the youth center, and he hopes to bring in traditional Moroccan musicians to teach traditional music techniques to students.  Hopefully by the end of this school year (when it is time for us to return to America) there will be teachers and youth in the community who have a new found love for music! More importantly, we hope that when we leave both the music programs at the elementary school and at the youth center will be sustainable and supported by the community!

Below you can read Arie's request for donations to help support his goals of bringing music to our community.  Here is the link to the page where you can make a personal donation of any size:  Thank you so much for your support!

 Arie teaching piano to one of his students at the youth center.

Friends and Family,

As you may or may not know, I have been working with the youth in Akka, Morocco on developing musical skills. Music is not part of the Moroccan public school curriculem (at least not in rural schools), and there are no private teachers in my community (nor have there ever been). We do have some talented young men here who are self-taught, and there some older folks who can play traditional Tashelhiet and Saharawai music. My Dar Chebab (Youth Center) has some instruments and some space, but we need to up the stakes if we are going to create a sustainable program.

My response to this issue last year was to create the Youth Music Club. I started doing one on one lessons in guitar and piano, and teaching combined music theory classes. This year I am hoping to continue and expand lessons, train some future music teachers, and train some peer educators. I am also hoping to recruit some of the Tashelhiet and Saharawai music players to come teach the youth at my center.

I am writing you because I need your assistance. I need funding to make this program great, and the option I have chosen for getting this funding is asking my friends and family for a little of their hard earned money. I am also asking you to let your friends and family know about this opportunity to help a Saharan community.

The money you and yours will be sending will go directly to the purchase of instruments, musical equipment, sheet music, and training supplies. The good news here is that a few dollars goes a long way in Morocco. Here is a price list of some of the items we plan to purchase to give you an idea of how far your money will go: classic guitar $60, steel string guitar $90, banjo $65, electric guitar $125, amplifier $90, tuner $15, string sets $6.50. We plan to buy enough to keep the program going for years to come without the necessity of future outside funding.

The goal is $1297.27, and in the first day we have already $200 in donations! Big and small contributions are all greatly appreciated. And you can trust me when I tell you that your contribution will mean a great deal to this community. Music is an amazing outlet for youth and adults alike, and more especially so in a community as remote as Akka.

Donate HERE

Thank you for everything,
Arie Kroeger

 Arie and the guitars he repaired at the youth center.

 Arie and his friend entertaining the youth at the youth center.

Thank you for your support! Here again is the link to the donation page:

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