Nasser Salameh, i3zif's Tabla instructor (Photo: i3zif)
Brainchild of Jordanian musician Bisher Abu Taleb and video editor Ayham Abu Hammad, www.i3zif.com provides an online platform for learning musical instruments via video lessons.
"The project came from our own experience with music," Abu Taleb told Ahram Online over Skype. "To learn an instrument, first you have to purchase it, pay for classes to learn to play it – all of which is expensive and not always accessible in the Arab world."
Abu Taleb explained that these obstacles might get in the way of people learning musical instruments. "The Arab world could be missing out on the next Bach," he said.
The online venture, now with 5,000 registered users, attempts to bring music production closer to people. They offer a cheaper alternative to classes, and guarantee the value of the lessons through selecting talented music teachers to share their knowledge of guitar, drums, oud and piano.
"Learning music is easier than people think - if one practices and gives it time," says Abu Taleb. He continues by saying that "most musicians are self taught, so if people have that passion and motivation we are providing them a tool as an alternative to learning centres."
The website advertises its professionalism, with teachers carefully selected to make sure they have a strong background in music and at least ten years experience.
"Our collaboration was perfect for this project," Abu Taleb commented regarding his relationship with Abu Hammad, with one having a strong background in music and the other in making videos.
Abu Taleb, an established musician himself, was part of El-Rumm group from 2001-2011 – a group run by award-winning composer Tarek El-Nasser.
According to Abu Taleb, most of their traffic comes from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia – with the United States following.
"Many from abroad want to learn the oud," Abu Taleb said. "We hope to offer oud courses in English in the future."
After studying similar models of the venture abroad, the duo created their platform. Besides carefully edited videos of instructors, showing a split screen with the keys of the instruments, users can ask questions by email or arrange Skype lessons with their instructors.
The creators would like i3zif to become a one stop shop for musicians in the Arab world. Besides adding more instruments and instructors to their network, i3zif hope to sell instruments online along with original records by Arab artists.