Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yara Qwareeq


Like other students at the al-Kamandjati music school in Ramallah, Yara Qwareeq arrives for her weekly lesson and recieves a regimen of instruction in scales, finger technique, and other piano essentials. However, Yara is unique in a very particular way: she is completely blind.

Yara (center), teacher Grassi (left), mother Samahir (right)

Yara is one of 300 music students across the West Bank receiving instruction from the al-Kamandjati music school, one of the few serving Palestinian students. Giacomo Grassi, her teacher of eight months, said that the initial challenge was to orient Yara to the sound of the keyboard. "At the beginning it was especially important to get her to hear the sound of octaves, fourths and fifths." Then came work with rhythmic imitation, and differentiating between black and white keys.

A typical lesson for Yara involves a great deal of imitation, as Grassi plays out rhythmic patterns or scales and she follows. To learn technique she places her hand on top of Grassi's in order to conceptualize its shape. She is also allowed to improvise melodies over harmonies played by Grassi; an exercise that she particularly enjoys.

From a young age she developed a proclivity towards music, says her mother, Samahir. "From the time she was a baby she used to sing along with famous songs in Arabic and English. I hope that I can develop her power to sing through the piano."


  1. Yara is adorable. I love Yara.

  2. Great, Giacomo. I linked you on my blog:
    Ciao! Maria