About the Project

About the Project

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture has developed curricula designed to align with and incorporate American Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science.

The Nassam Alayna-l Hawa digital resource is an interactive online tool for deepening students’ understanding of Arab culture.  The primary intended users of this educational tool are 3rd to 12th graders in schools and in community choirs.  It can be used to build an appreciation of Arab music, the Arabic language, and aspects of Arab culture and history.  The website has several interactive features to serve various educational needs.

As Al-Bustan teaching artists have worked closely for a number of years with directors of community choirs and music teachers in public and independent schools, it became evident that there is a need for a tool that helps educators to break down the steps for understanding Arab music and provide educators the resources to learn and teach the music. There is a dearth of quality recordings and well-notated music for use by educators. As Arab music was taught for generations using the oral tradition, there have been few attempts to create resources that are accessible to young students in a western setting.  In particular, it is difficult to obtain instrumental notation that takes into consideration multiple arrangements for different instrumentation, rather than simply a one-line melody in treble clef.  A music teacher, aiming to expand students’ exposure to new forms of music, may use the online tools to teach the song and the multiple tracks of lyrics and instrumentals, synced with the online sheet music, provide a great degree of instructional flexibility.

In the realm of the language arts classroom, the digital tool can be used to deepen the students’ knowledge of Arabic by providing language practice in a fun, musical context as well as a traditionally academic one.  An Arabic language teacher might give beginning students the Arabic text of the lyrics, placed alongside the transliterated text, and have them practice sounding out the new word sounds. The “diction” setting provides a spoken model to which students may refer.  Students may then practice singing the words using the play and sing along” setting, in which musical accompaniment can be progressively added.

A social studies teacher can use these tools to broaden student understandings of different cultures.  In a social studies classroom, the song can be used as a primary source, lending insight into the cultural dimension of Arab contributions.   The song speaks of home, place, nostalgia and other timeless descriptions that can be compared/contrasted to other forms of Arabic poetry or poetry from other cultures. A social studies educator may also assign the “About the Composer” and “About the Song” sections as readings to contextualize the subject.  Users of Al-Kitaab – Book 1 will find Nassam Alayna-l Hawa a useful tool to accompany the unit on the Rahbani Brothers and Fairuz.


A highly dedicated team effort by the following people was instrumental in creating this educational tool:

Hanna Khoury – oversaw implementation of all music aspects of this project, and recorded violin and viola tracks and the vocal tracks for sing along and for diction

Hafez Kotain – recorded percussion tracks on riq, tableh, and daff

Kinan Abou-afach – recorded the cello and oud tracks, mixed the audio files, and arranged the music notation files with separate lines for melody, percussion, and transliterated lyrics

Ayman Alalao – integrated the recorded audio files into an interactive online application that allows the user to follow the music notation and the lyrics with a bar indicator and individually control each of the strings, percussion and vocal tracks.

Madeline Conley and David Heayn – prepared lessons plans related to the song

Hazami Sayed – directed the conception and implementation of this project

We welcome your feedback and invite you to actively use this educational tool and share your comments with us!