About the Project

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is in the process of developing 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 first such unit explores modern Egypt through the story of preeminent female singer Umm Kulthum.

As a sub-unit of the Umm Kulthum curriculum which will be launched online by September 2012, Al-Bustan developed Yalli Zar’atu Lburtuan, an interactive online tool for teaching a popular song by composer/musician Mohammad Abdel Wahab, a contemporary of Umm Kulthum. The primary intended users of this first in a series of music educational tools are 3rd to 12th graders in schools and in community choirs. This tool can be used by students and teachers to appreciate Arab music, or it can be used by educators to teach Arabic lyrics, diction, rhythms, and instrumentals. The website has several interactive features to serve various educational needs.

The goal of this tool is to break down the steps for understanding Arab music and provide educators the resources to learn and teach the music. As Al-Bustan teaching artists have been working closely over the past few years with directors of community choirs and music teachers in public and independent schools, it has become evident that there is a need for such a resource. 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 highly dedicated team effort by the following people was instrumental in creating this educational tool:

Music Director 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

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

Musician and Sound Engineer 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

Digital Designer 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.

Program Assistant Musa Hamideh – prepared content for the sections about the composer and maqam

Education Coordinator Eric Lundblade – prepared lessons plans related to the song

Executive Director 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!