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  • Student Learns The Violin As War and Violence Are Nearby

    Student Learns The Violin As War and Violence Are Nearby

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    Sometimes the power of music can transcend a person from time and place and make him forget about all the worries and fears happening in day-to-day life.

    And sometimes, rather tragically, the cruel realities of the world are too overpowering.

    We were moved by a Los Angeles Times story of a Beverly Hills music instructor who gave music lessons to a student living in the semi-autonomous region in Iraq known as Kurdistan. They met through Jonathan Hollander who connects dance and music instructors to students living in conflict zones.

    If you have been following the news you know the region well. It is a hotbed of activity with the Kurds trying to fend off jihadists groups (i.e. ISIS, Islamic State). Last summer, President Barack Obama issued airstrikes over the summer in an effort to repel jihadists and protect American oil interests.

    Yet, with such political instability and Kurds seeking refuge in a mountaintop, teacher Constance Meyer taught student Mustafa (a fictional name to protect his identity) how to play the violin via Skype. The Internet connection would sometimes be unpredictable but they continued, bonded by their love of music.  Meyer introduced him to Vivalvdi’s “The Four Season” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and enjoyed see Mustafa’s eyes light up when he heard the music.

    At that moment, where people live, their political or religious views are irrelevant. The love of music is all that matters.

    Yet, those magical moments were short-lived.

    Meyer wrote: “As a violin teacher, I’d never thought at the end of a lesson that I might not see a student again. At his third lesson, on Sept. 3, Mustafa told me that he was prepared to join the Peshmerga (armed Kurdish fighters). While military service in Kurdistan is voluntary and he’d never served, he said: ‘I can go to fighting. They not conquer my country.’ …A week or so later, Hollander emailed me. ‘Have you seen Mustafa’s latest Facebook photos?’ There he was in military fatigues and boots, surrounded by other recruits, draped in the flag of Kurdistan, the violin nowhere to be seen. He canceled his fourth lesson. ‘Very busy,’ he emailed.”

     They still have not resumed lessons. We hope that wherever Mustafa is right now that “The Four Seasons” is bringing him comfort.

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