“Through melody, harmony, and rhythm, we enter a world where others exist besides the self, a world that is full of feeling but also ordered, disciplined but free. That is why music is a character-forming force.” -Roger Scruton
That's philosopher Roger Scruton, quoted by Philip Ball in his book Music Instinct - how music works and why we can't do without it. In it, Scruton argues that “music has a capacity to provide moral education.”
How many of us can state that our children have a proper music education at school? Most Egyptian public schools have forgotten about music, and children enrolled in those schools often come from families who for one reason or another do not consider this fact an alarming one. Ahram Online investigates a variety of options available in Cairo for people interested in serious music education for their children.
For parents searching for music education as a solid part of school curriculum, we can mention only a few of top Cairo schools, where children of financially privileged parents can enjoy the full spectrum of music and arts activities.
The American International School, The British School at Rehab, Maadi British International School, and the Deutsche Schule der Borromaerinnen, among a very few others.
The New Cairo International British School, states on their website: "The fact that children can make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music can make beautiful children," explaining the advanced music curriculum offered to their students.
Similarly, the British International School in Cairo (BISC) considers music to be “a vehicle for personal expression and it can play a vital role in the personal development of pupils. Music is intellectually demanding, as well as appealing to the emotions and senses. Music making encourages self-discipline, creativity, group identity, aesthetic sensitivity and fulfilment.”
As for higher education, the American University in Cairo offers a two-credit music programme (MUSC 280), while all students are encouraged to take part in Chamber Singers Ensemble, Arab Music Ensemble and Guitar Ensemble.
But how many parents can afford to enrol their children into the above-mentioned schools? In reality most Egyptian children attend public schools. According to the ministry of education, in 2009 only five per cent of students at primary and preparatory level are enrolled in private and international schools.
The Cairo Conservatoire and Faculty of Music Education at Helwan University, housed in one of the beautiful villas in Zamalek, is another solution for those wanting to pursue a professional music career. Faculty of Music Education also offers music activities to public.
In addition to those options already mentioned, here are Ahram Online’s recommendations for centres providing solid music education, which incorporate serious development of talents and skills with the fun of making music:
Cairo Opera House, under the umbrella of the Talents Development Center, offers a variety of music activities and programs for children looking to play piano, flute, guitar and violin (Suzuki method) among other instruments. Teachers are qualified conservatory graduates, usually professors and members of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and Cairo Opera Orchestra. Anyone interested should contact the Cairo Opera House and inquire about possible tests and assessments for the upcoming school year.
Cairo Opera House, Zamalek
Tel: (02) 27390144
Maadi Symphony School gives guitar and piano lessons, offering globally-accredited examinations. The school is an official representative of the Trinity Guildhall, joining the existing two representatives in Egypt at Ramses College and Alexandria. Trinity accredited certificates are door-openers for professionals and casual music-lovers alike.
Students enrolled in the symphony school are not obliged to take Trinity exams, but still follow the Trinity curriculum. The school provides tuition for piano and guitar, in addition to elements of music knowledge, aural tests, improvisation and sight-reading. All lessons are given on an individual basis. Recently, the school initiated a new program with the British Rock School for rock musicians wanting to earn accredited certificates.
Symphony Maadi Music School
Street 275, #4, 9th Floor New Maadi, Cairo
Tel: Maria Harper 0106362870, Hesham Abu Shady 0165331965
Cairo Music Center, established in 1995 follows the ABRSM curriculum (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music), an educational body and charity that provides music exams for both practical skills and music theory. Oriental instruments have their own syllabus. Guitar and singing lessons are available.
Cairo Music Centre
14 El-zohour St., Hedico Masr Complex (off Airport Road), Heliopolis, Cairo
Tel: (02) 22667544
A few branches of the Kythara Music Centre give one-on-one lessons, following a curriculum developed by the music department at Helwan University where exams are offered. The centre also gives lessons to children with special needs.
Kythara Music Centre
35 Giza St., El Gamea Square, Heliopolis, Cairo
Tel: (02) 22588926, 010 6566625
At Hewaya Art Centre music activities include piano and guitar. The centre follows its own curriculum, with some elements of the Royal College curriculum (guitar only) and Trinity Guildhall (guitar and piano).
Hewaya Art Centre
Sheikh Zayed City, entrance 1, Tara Compound
Tel: (02) 38504601
El Sawy Culturewheel offers guitar, drum and oud courses to young students.
El Sawy Culturewheel
26th of July Street, Zamalek
Russian Cultural Centre in Dokki, Cairo holds many artistic activities and courses, including music lessons. Many of their classes culminate in a final performance at the end of the year.
Russian Cultural Centre
127Al Tahrir Street, Al Dokki