These are exciting times at the Be'er Sheva Music Conservatory.
In the past two years since I first became the conservatory's music director, we have experienced unprecedented growth and success.
We have renewed the conservatory's string department and reestablished its string orchestra;
we launched a program for introducing musical instruments in schools and saw an immediate and substantial rise in our number of music students;
we opened the first music school for the Bedouin community in Rahat; we started an adult education department; we initiated a much welcomed series of concert talks for students and their families.
With the support of the Be'er Sheva municipality, our partners, our donors, our teachers and administrational staff- we see the conservatory taking its proper place in the local and national music scene.
However, there is still much work to be done.
We bring before you a few of our most pressing and daring dreams, those that will help us leap forward and lead in our community.
I invite you to become my partner, our partner, in leading this change,
Director, The Be'er Sheva Music Conservatory
The Grand South
Establishing a Program for the Advancement of Piano Performance in the Negev
The Be'er Sheva Music Conservatory once boasted a superb piano department, compatible with the extensive investment of its founder and legendary director, the late pianist Ruth Hilman.
Unfortunately, the department deteriorated over time: the number of pupils decreased and the condition of its teachers and pianos worsened. Now, after years of neglect, the conservatory under its new management seeks to revive the piano department and return it to its original glory.
The program for reviving the conservatory's piano department consists of four pillars:
Training young teachers - provide a fitting opportunity for young pianists to gain experience in piano instruction, accompanied and supervised by senior teachers.
Making piano lessons accessible to new pupils - with special attention to pupils from families who are unable to finance musical education.
Empowering and promoting talented pupils - cultivate a pioneering generation that will provide inspiration to all conservatory pupils and will enhance the entire department.
Providing an educational framework for the piano pupil's families - and by doing so ensuring that the pupils, both new and outstanding, will receive the support they need in the home setting.
How will it work?
Already within the first year we plan to train 10 young piano teachers, cultivate 10 outstanding pupils currently studying at the conservatory, and bring 50 new piano pupils - a new generation - to the department, with an emphasis on providing opportunities for talented children from disadvantaged families.
Through music academies we will select 10 outstanding students from their teaching and performance tracks.
The selected students will travel south once a week for a teaching day at the Beer Sheva Conservatory where they will teach 5 new pupils and one advanced pupil.
The students will benefit from professional accompaniment by a senior teacher who is a known pianist and a pedagogue.
The accompanying teacher will observe every teacher once every two weeks and provide feedback.
The young teachers will be remunerated for their work in the south and benefit from high quality pedagogic accompaniment, team meetings for sharing their experience, and assistance in entering the teaching profession.
New pupils will be selected in a comprehensive, municipal screening process. We will select the 50 pupils who will demonstrate the greatest talent and interest in learning to play the piano, with special attention to pupils from families who are unable to finance musical education. All pupils will receive a full scholarship for one year of piano lessons and for beginner theory and listening classes.
The parents of these new pupils will benefit from a series of sessions with a psychologist that specializes in accompanying families of individuals playing musical instruments.
Various topics will be addressed, including: playing a musical instrument and the family, information about the piano and piano instruction, basic information about music history and literature, dealing with practice and stage fright, accompanying the child to class and concert listening.
Lastly, we will select the 10 most exceptional pupils currently at the conservatory, and foster them intensively. We will finally provide our outstanding students with what they need in order to compete with outstanding students from the center of Israel and throughout the world.
The outstanding pupils will take part in "Applied Harmony" classes for performers in which they will analyze the musical works they perform, they will play chamber music in a four hand ensemble or a chamber ensemble with other musical instruments, will participate in master classes on a regular basis, and attend piano concerts in outings organized by the conservatory.
In addition, these outstanding pupils will have weekly lessons with a teacher in training, thereby both benefiting from the young teacher's knowledge and zeal, and helping the teacher gain hands-on experience teaching advanced pupils. The pupil's parents will also receive professional accompaniment provided to "families" of outstanding instrumentalists.
The Grand South is a revolutionary program that will decidedly raise the piano performance level in the Negev and revitalize the national cadre of piano teachers. We believe its influence will be felt throughout the country for years to come.
Cost for one operating year: $168,000
Renewing the Municipal Music Library in Be'er Sheva
The municipal music library is where music lovers meet: young and old, amateurs and professionals.
The municipal music library plays a vitally important role in presenting music, enabling its access to the public and attracting children and youth to the wonderful world of musical sounds.
The municipal library in Beer Sheva, which in the past was a central social focal point for the city's music lovers, has remained unchanged over the years.
The library interior has not been altered since its construction in the 1970's, the library has a collection of disintegrating sheet music and a critical shortage of basic equipment such as video and audio systems.
There is a great desire to renew the library. The scorching-hot desert city yearns for indoor and enriching interiors in which high-quality and varied content can be enjoyed.
The time has come to renew the library and adapt it to the 21st century. The renewal plan includes:
Establishing computerized listening areas linked to the main music databases in the world.
Installing large video screens for the screening of operas and concerts.
Digitization of the library's sheet music collection and links to online sheet music databases.
Creating a special learning space that will host a variety of activities for varied populations - from music workshops for pre-school children through guided listening groups for adults.
Establishing a performance area equipped with a variety of electronic tools: from tablets that help in learning to read music and provide the first experience of musical sounds, through synthesizers and sound manipulation instruments used by professional musicians.
Establishing music composition and sound adaptation stations equipped with keyboard instruments and the best music editing software.
Such a library will attract residents from Beer Sheva and the surrounding area and will strengthen and heighten the cultural renewal process of the music conservatory, the Israel Sinfonietta Orchestra and the city as a whole.
Cost of renewing and equipping the new library: $50,000
Instituting Music Education for the Bedouins of the Negev.
Music is a powerful tool for bringing about social change and transforming the lives of children otherwise destined to face discrimination, crime and poverty. Sarab strives to introduce a life transforming music program where it is needed most: among the Bedouins of the Negev, one of the poorest and most discriminated groups within Israeli society.
Music develops creativity, attentiveness, and appreciation of beauty; it provides a feeling of identity and belonging, and brings people together in the aim of achieving a common goal. Music education teaches perseverance, concentration and focus; it affects studentsí general academic performance, and endows them valuable skills that serve them later in life. Moreover, learning to play an instrument is a time consuming task, keeping children out of trouble. Music can be the start of a different, better life for the Bedouin community, and a new basis for establishing a fruitful cooperation and communication between the Bedouin and the Jewish communities.
Our aim is to establish within 3-5 years the first, fully-fledged, Bedouin music school in the Negev, with a rich and vibrant student body, a flagship string orchestra, and a well-qualified faculty. This school will become a home and inspiration for the entire Bedouin community, and a significant pillar in establishing the Negev's first youth symphony orchestra - an orchestra that will promote communication based on equality and mutual-appreciation between the Bedouins and the Jewish population of the Negev.
How does it work?
Thanks to the leadership of maestro Omer Meir Wellber and the generous support of two major foundations, we have managed to embark on our journey towards establishing a music school in Rahat.
In the past couple of months, teachers have been trained, one classroom has been modified and made physically suitable for music teaching, and violins were purchased. Since May 2015, children from one elementary school class in Rahat are learning to play the violin. But there is still much to be done.
We wish to expand the program to include more children and more instruments. In order to achieve this, we must modify additional classrooms, purchase more instruments, train more teachers, and most importantly - provide all students with regular individual lessons to ensure high level training.
It is our hope that by the end of the second year, the students will reach a high enough level to form a string orchestra. Within a few year's time, we expect this ensemble, together with the Be'er Sheva conservatory string orchestra, to form the basis of a Jewish-Bedouin youth symphony orchestra that will meet and play together regularly on school holidays.
In addition, in the near future we also wish to introduce music theory lessons of both Western and Arabic music, with a strong emphasis on the Bedouin musical heritage. In order to bring the students closer to their unique heritage, students will be sent on a special mission, to meet and record their tribe's musicians. These recordings will assist us in creating an online database of local Bedouin music which is all but extinct.
Cost for one operating year: $168,000