The last class of the season was one to remember. Our best turnout yet, with over 60 people, and filled with singing, renowned instrumentalists, excitement, and laughter. That is the way we envisioned this class when we set out on this journey in 2013. It is my true happiness to see it all come to fruition, with God’s help.
As well, many of you stayed after the class for what I’ve heard dubbed “one of the greatest events in Kol Israel history”. In celebration of the Maqam Class and Saul & Lilly Harari’s twin girls, and with authentic delicious lamb burgers and fresh Chimay beer from the keg, close to 100 people sat and listened to some of the most talented and energized arabic musicians and hazanim, led by Maury Blanco.
Not only was it our 8th and final class before the summer, but our first of Maqam Rast, the mother of all Maqamat. On this blog you will find a bunch of great audio files to help you get the flavor of Rast including short improvisational pieces on various instruments including my own on the ney, as well as oud and qanun by Victor Esses and Abraham Salman, respectively. I’ve eliminated the need for a username and password to access the material, so please pass this along to anyone who would like to either join the class or view the material online. (you guys finally wore me down)
I am looking forward to hearing your feedback on the class, and to God willing continuing our journey together in the fall/winter (I hope to be back in touch after the High Holidays). Enjoy the long break for summer; in the meantime: listen, practice, sing, and discuss. Continue reading
Thank you all for making the last class an excellent turnout. Congratulations to those who participated in the 8 pesukim in Ashrei, covering the entire Bayat scale.
As it was our last class on Maqam Bayat, it gave me great satisfaction to see everyone so much further along in their ability to identify and properly sing the Maqam top to bottom, in addition to understanding all the many other Maqamat that are interwoven within Bayat.
It’s great to be back! After a long break, it is wonderful to see everyone still so quickly grasping the concepts presented, and being able to participate in the singing.
Below the media files are a few highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class with my PowerPoint presentation, specifically the transition from Bayat (on D / note 1) to Ajam (on B flat / note 6).
As well, and thanks to our dear friend, musician, and hazan Victor Esses, we introduced a new exercise to help us learn how to navigate all 8 notes in the Bayat scale while reading through “Ashrei”. This is also a great way to practice and develop your own signature style. You can watch this at 39:00 into the first video.
Michael Continue reading
As I wrote in my recent email, this last class was a true milestone in our progress towards conquering the Maqamat. Congrats to all the participants in this class who performed solos – your hard work really showed in your creative singing.
Below the media files is a recap and highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class with my PowerPoint presentation, specifically the hidden backroads of Bayat and the various ways to transition to other Maqamat. Once again, this information is more advanced for those who want to delve deeper.
We re-introduced the concept of Pizmon Improv this past Saturday night. Again, this is using the Pizmon as a springboard to jump into vocal improvisation (Mawal), while using the structure of the song as a basis for the Mawal. I posted an example of that below on both Bayat note 5(A) and note 7(C). This is a great way to practice and develop your own signature style.
As I mentioned in my email, we knocked the last class out of the park, I am thrilled to see so much progress from the previous class. I’d like to continue practicing notes 1-5 in Bayat.
Below the media files is a recap and highlights of the material we covered during the technical portion of our class on the projector presentation, specifically the breakdown of Bayat into the two Jins and where they each begin and end, and how it compares to Husseini. Again, consider this information extra credit – you don’t need to understand it to succeed in this class. If it seems too complicated, leave it alone and focus on the music. Also, please forgive me for the recording of the class not showing the whiteboard presentation clearly enough to see it, we will try to troubleshoot for next class.
We introduced a new concept to the class Saturday night. This is using the Pizmon as a springboard to jump into vocal improvisation (Mawal), using the structure of the song as a basis for the Mawal. I posted an example of that below. I recommend practicing this way for the coming two weeks to start developing your own “moves” for Maqam Bayat.
I am totally blown away and deeply inspired. You all nailed the lower Jins Bayat when we sang the notes individually. You were right on key when we sang Sur Ya El. And I was stunned by how accurate and moving the 3 Mawals were – congratulations to Abe Manopla, Joey Franco, and Ovadia Sutton, great work – It takes guts to get up there and be in the spotlight. A special thanks to Maury for selflessly sharing his musical talent with us and adding new flavor to our class.
I’d like to continue focusing on and perfecting the lower Jins of Bayat, with the addition of what we’ve added to our repertoire, note 5, which also happens to be the tonic or starting Continue reading
I think we really raised the bar this time. I am deeply gratified to see you quickly identify Bayat and to hear you sing the lower Jins so clearly and confidently. It also seemed that most of you grasped the overall technical and mathematical concepts presented. All of this is a breakthrough – because a true Bayat is actually one of the more difficult Maqamat to sing. Once we move on to other scales you will see how closely related they are and how much easier it is to grasp them. Continue reading
From Michael Harari:
I am truly speechless. I’ve always heard of the amazing congregants of Kol Israel, but did not imagine that I would be teaching a group of such smart, talented, and musical people, nor did I think I would be able to cover so much ground in a single class. You kept me on my toes and it seemed as though you all really grasped the important concepts. And most enjoyable for me was to hear you all right on key when we sang Maqam Bayat together.
I am committed to sticking with you all while we all learn about Continue reading
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I spent the better part of this past Wednesday talking to a group of young adults about Ta’anit Esther. I was surprised to learn that the group tally for those invested in fasting was sadly below 50% (the tally for completing the fast, the percentage was much lower). Some of my students showed their disinterest by walking into their first period class or around the hallways, holding a cup of coffee from Chock or Dunkin.
This shocked me because for the past two weeks the Halakha and Talmud teachers were teaching Sugyoth directly related to the halakhot of Ta’anit Esther and the Holiday of Purim.
There is a disconnect between what we teach in class and how the students indentify with those ideas. The level of buy-in, is hardly a given. No matter how well certain students perform on their Jewish Studies exams, the level of commitment to Jewish practice is often not commensurate. I assure you that this situation in not limited to a school. I have heard anecdotal evidence from my colleagues from Jewish Day Schools across the globe.
That’s where YOU come in, the parents and grandparents. In the end, it comes down to this, are the students hearing the same message about a commitment to our religion in both school and at home?
As a teacher I have come to realize, that I can’t do it without YOU. No matter how inspirational I am in class, no matter how well my students do on their exams. It wont matter, unless they see their parents and grandparents, living a committed Jewish life to Torah, Misvoth and Customs (Minhagim).
I tried to get my students to realize, that if they don’t see themselves as a responsible link in the chain of our great religion of Judaism, it is very possible that down the road, there won’t be any chain at all.
I ask you the same question. What have you as parents and grandparents tried in order to instill a level of commitment in the next generation. I would like to know.
Rabbi Moses Haber email@example.com
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