Like mother, like daughters: Saudi family share a passion for music

Nada and Carine Hamzah with their mother Dania Gazzaz. The latter believes that learning music and playing instruments enhance children’s academic skills. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 11 March 2019
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Like mother, like daughters: Saudi family share a passion for music

  • Parents of Nada and Carine strike a chord with message of harmony in the home

JEDDAH: Nada and Carine Hamzah grew up in a family that appreciates music and beauty. Their parents exposed them to music at a young age and were keen to provide them with music education from professionals.
Their mother, Dania Gazzaz, an art instructor, told Arab News: “All my family members played some music instrument somehow; we’ve always been around music somewhere.”
Music is essential because it helps children “develop all areas of the brain, and also expresses mood and the personality of the individual,” she said.
“I remember when I was younger that if I was upset, I used to release those emotions through the piano,” she added.
Gazzaz believes that learning music and playing musical instruments enhance children’s cognitive and academic skills.
“Music made my three children mindful, alert and focused on what they put their minds to. Music is a plus for kids.”
Studies have shown that music can significantly improve a child’s pattern recognition and mental representation scores, which means that children with musical backgrounds excel in school.
Nada, 25, enjoys playing Arabic music on the piano “because I really like the tunes.”
“My family, in general, enjoyed music. My dad really enjoyed it, and my mom played the piano well,” she said.
Nada did her undergraduate studies in neuroscience in the US and is a co-host of Direction Podcast. She views music as a hobby that she enjoys with friends and family.
“I think it is important to learn music — it requires another level of concentration and it works on the different parts of your brain.”
Nada’s musical journey began at Jeddah private school. “I used to enjoy singing along with the teacher, who used to play the piano, and then I began learning the piano,” she said.
Her journey has had some ups and downs. “I used to take classes, but I stopped many times, and I had a few issues with instructors,” she said.
“It was frustrating because I had to learn the basics all over again, and that made me not take the tests. I do take classes from time to time.”
Carine, 15, is a high school student who plays piano and guitar, takes theory lessons, and is a talented singer, too. She has been performing in plays at her school for the past three years and has also performed at public events.
“When it comes to singing, I enjoy musical theater and modern pop songs,” she said. “I like the classical and romantic periods the most, and I appreciate 20th century composers much more now because before I didn’t really understand them.”
Carine’s parents are eager to develop her talent and provide her with the best musical education.
She joined the renowned Juilliard School summer camp in Switzerland last year, and has been invited to join the school again because of her impressive performance.
However, her parents struggle to find professional music tutors for their daughters in the Kingdom. “One of the obstacles we have is it is always difficult to find teachers in the first place. When we find them, they are usually teachers from abroad. It is so hard to find local professional or Middle Eastern teachers,” Gazzaz said.
She said the family had tried for years to find professional tutors to teach their daughters Arabic music and singing. “For the past two years, we have been searching for teachers to teach her professional Arabic singing, and couldn’t find anybody. Now we have found two teachers — one in Lebanon and the other in Egypt.
“Imagine, to learn professional Arabic singing, we have to go next vacation to Egypt in April for two weeks,” she said.
With the new changes in Saudi Arabia, the family hope to see more professional music education institutions opening “where we can learn our old songs and authentic language.”
“We need to learn music in a proper and educational manner, rather than the current randomness. We have seen super-talented people, but they do not have the teacher’s attitude. I’ve also seen so many talented girls who are trying to learn musical instruments and finding it hard to get professional teachers.”
Nada said: “Because music wasn’t regulated in any sense, often you would find yourself mixing with an unregulated crowd that could be dangerous. One thing that I’m hopeful for is that now that music is regulated, you feel kind of safe for getting involved.”
Gazzaz believes music can be an agent for positive change if it is properly appreciated because “it brings charm and happiness to people.”
The government is aiming to encourage young talent in the Saudi entertainment industry as part of the Vision 2030 program.


First Saudi female air traffic controllers begin work

Updated 22 March 2019
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First Saudi female air traffic controllers begin work

  • Eleven women completed a one-year program conducted by Saudi Air Navigation Services

JEDDAH: Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS) on Wednesday celebrated the appointment and start of work of the first batch of Saudi female air traffic controllers at an air traffic control center in Jeddah.
Eleven women completed a one-year program conducted by SANS in cooperation with the Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation. This is the first program to qualify women to work as air traffic controllers.
The academy initiative, in collaboration with SANS, seeks to create more jobs for women as part of a reform push to wean the economy off oil. Vision 2030 plan aims to increase employment and diversify revenue sources.
Earlier, SANS CEO Ryyan Tarabzoni said the state-owned company was prioritizing the hiring of women in the profession, as the country pushes to extend women’s rights in the country and also recruit more nationals as part of the “Saudization” project.