The team at Kasbah Tamadot are always enthusiastic about supporting and engaging with projects that help give-back to the local community, particularly as 90% of our staff are from the local area. One such project is the development of the local music school in Asni. Omar Bouhmid is the President of the music school, but many of you may be more familiar with Omar as Kasbah’s Food and Beverage Manager. We caught up with Omar to hear about his work with the music school and his personal life-long passion for music…
Where did your love of music come from?
I think like most people, I probably loved music in some shape or form since I was born, but my love of music really started when I was a teenager when I liked to listen to the music on my Walkman before going to bed each evening.
How did you first become involved with the music school?
The idea of a music school was first discussed when guests Angelika and Dietrich Harthan, from Germany, who first stayed at Kasbah Tamadot back in 2006. They fell in love with the area and always thought about the possibility of giving back and doing something for the local children. During their fifth stay in April 2015, after what seemed like a long discussion, we agreed it would be fantastic to build a small conservatory at Asni primary school where the children could learn to play music. I approached the Headmaster of the school to get his thoughts on the projects and he was extremely enthusiastic about the plans right from the start. The next crucial step was to find a music teacher who would help run the music school. It was difficult to find a music teacher in the area, but after a long hunt I managed to fine one! His name is Kamal Nedali from Tahanaout which is about 17km from Asni, and he is in fact a famous musician in the area. I met with him and we discussed the project in more details, such as the music schedule and what type of instruments we would need to source for the children to play. We then set about sourcing the instruments, mostly from Marrakesh and Casablanca.
The music school first opened its door in December 2015.
How has the school grown since opening?
Kamal comes every Sunday to give lessons to the children for about four hours. Since then, the school has continued to grow from strength-to-strength, with recent additions including new speakers to help project the music when playing outdoors. The success of the music school is largely thanks to the Parents’ Association who have played a big role in terms of communication between the music school and the rest of the school. A big thank you also has to go to Vincent, Kasbah Tamadot’s General Manager, who has championed the school from the beginning. He likes to visit the school from time to time to see how things are going.
What do you love most about being the President of the music school?
I love the fact that I have been involved with the music school from the very beginning, even when it was just an inkling of an idea! It makes me happy to see the children enjoying learning to play music and watching them improve day after day is hugely rewarding. Also, the music school has recently become a partner of the German Media Stiftung located in Stuttgart, Germany and will gain a huge amount from joining the organisation as a smaller sub-foundation in terms of administrative and charitable support.
How many children do you currently teach?
We have between 80-100 pupils attending the music school. The girls and boys are aged between 7 and 14 years old. It was in fact one of the conditions of the Parents’ Association that boys and girls would attend classes together.
What instruments and type of music do they play?
The children play the piano, guitar, banjo, drums, tambourine and some have even started to play the violin. The type of music they play is a mixture of Arabic music, Berber music plus a little French and English music too.
Do the children perform any concerts in the local area?
Yes, they participate in school parties in Asni and other schools around Marrakesh.
How can people help support the music school?
We’re in the early stages of working with the Kasbah team to see if we can arrange for the pupils to come and perform a small concert at Kasbah for the guests as part of the Christmas and New Year events. If guests would like any more information about the music school or how they can get involved, please do come and ask me any questions during your visit!