Waed and Lama

DSC08585.jpg
 

Waed and Lama interviewed at the Deir Ghassaneh Music Center

Donia:

What’s your name?

Waed:

Waed Barghouti.

Donia:

How old are you?

Waed: 15.

Donia:

Where do you live?

Waed:

Deir Ghassaneh.

Donia:

What instrument do you play?

Waed:

Violin.

Donia: How long have you been playing the violin?

Waed: 5 years.

Donia:

Why do you like playing the violin?

Do you like playing the violin?

Waed:

Of course, it’s like that. No reason.

Donia:

How do you feel when you play the violin?

Waed:

I feel calm. I enjoy it.

Donia:

When you play the violin, do you feel out your emotions? For example, if there’s something sad..

or do you think of school?

Waed:

I remember the good things and forget the ugly things.

Donia:

Like what?

For example, when I play the piano, if someone has upset me, or if I’m coping with a loss like my cousin’s death-

Waed:

A lot of the time when I’m playing violin I cry.

Donia:

Yeah. Because you are alone.

Waed:

For example I will be upset about something and I will go play and cry.

Lama:

She puts all her bad energy in the violin.

Donia:

Yeah!

So can you tell us your name?

Lama:

My name is Lama and I am fifteen years old and I live in Beit Rima. I play the oud for, I don’t know exactly, maybe five years or four. It wasn’t my choice. It was my brother’s choice.  My brother told me I should play the oud. I respected his opinion.  I never imagined that I would be playing the oud, not just me, but everybody.

Waed:

Lama was the first girl to play oud here in Deir Ghassaneh and people were saying that she doesn’t look good playing as a girl, people kept saying she should be playing the violin because it’s prettier and more feminine. The first year she wasn’t too encouraged to play or practice, but afterwards, things changed.

Donia:

So, you’re saying because you’re a girl, they didn’t want you to play oud?

Lama:

Maybe. I think that the violin is easier to play, but after two years of playing oud, I felt special because I was just a girl playing the oud, but I still thought that if I play the violin it would be easier for me.

My teacher Dmitri started giving me songs for Umm Kulthum and Abdel Halim and I performed them perfectly, and when Khaled (my teacher) came, I put all my energy into performing it. The boys all laughed at me saying “look at her! A girl who played the oud!” I wanted to show this boy who told me that I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t play it, I wanted to show him that I could do anything!

Donia: Yes!

Waed:

But a lot of people did encourage Lama to play oud. At first nobody noticed the gender differences because we were younger, but they were still shocked. Maybe because the oud doesn’t sit well with a woman, in people’s eyes.

Donia:

So did people start encouraging you when they saw you perform and perform well?

Waed:

Yeah. People’s opinions of her shifted.

Lama:

The first time I performed for an audience I didn’t feel like I wanted to play for them. It was a strange feeling of, not boredom, but a combination of sadness and shock at the idea of a young girl playing the oud. Particularly traditional songs, that they say anybody else could play, and play better. But then people have changed their attitude because I have gotten better and so I’ve earned their respect.

I love old things. Not just when it comes to music. Clothes, accessories, all things old. You can play new music on the oud, you can play old music on the oud, traditional music on the oud. You feel special when you play it.

Lama:

We used to play foreign music, European music, and then when we saw Lama playing Arabic music we became inspired to play our own music, and it became a source of joy for us to play something close to our hearts and our culture and our history. Because the oud is an Middle Eastern instrument, so I can understand it better.

When I played European music I didn’t even notice when I made a mistake, but with Arabic music it’s different. You feel it. You know.

Lama:

With the oud you can improvise, put all your feelings into it, the different modes allow you to experiment more. Professor Khaled taught me how to improvise. So did my brothers. With improvisations, you can solo in the middle of a song. You could be playing with a singer who wants to improvise too, so I started doing something different, something beautiful.

Waed:

Yeah and with Middle Eastern music you can do your own thing. You can add your own thing. But with Western music, you can only play what’s on the page.

With our professor Khaled, at first, we were more disciplined to learn how to play, and he wouldn’t let us improvise. But now that we’re better we can add our own improvisations and solo. You feel very emotional. I’ll never forget the first performance we had with singers and we all improvised together, the audience kept wanting us to repeat certain sections together. It wasn’t the same as solo performance. You don’t really feel much up there alone.

Donia:

So you like being part of a musical community more? A group? You like when the audience connects with you and the music you’re playing?

Waed:

With Western classical music, nobody notices if you make a mistake. Nobody except your teacher. But with our music, with Arabic music, everybody knows if you miss a note.

Donia:

You have a responsibility to the music.

Lama: Everybody is responsible for their note.

Donia: Yeah, good one!

Can you play for me?

Lama: When professor Khaled comes, we will.

Waed: Yes, we’re going to practice.