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Author: Subject: Oud teachers in Cairo besides Naseer Shamma's Bait Al Oud/Arab Oud House
yozhik
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[*] posted on 4-22-2018 at 12:12 AM
Oud teachers in Cairo besides Naseer Shamma's Bait Al Oud/Arab Oud House


I am a beginning player and am currently studying once a week with a Syrian composer here in Sweden.

In September, I will move to Cairo for 1 year to study Arabic language and continue my oud practice.

I am looking for an oud teacher in Cairo and am wondering what good alternatives there are to Naseer Shamma's Bait Al Oud?

It is the more traditional Arabic music from Egypt and Palestine that made me want to learn oud in the first place, and recently even Gulf players like Abadi Al Johar. I am not particularly interested in the modern Iraqi style and music in the style of Naseer Shamma doesn't really excite me.

Is Bait Al Oud still a good choice, even if I am not interested in that particular style of music? If not, what are some good alternatives in Cairo? Should I just ask around for teachers once I am there?

Two additional questions:

1. If I do study at Bait Al Oud, will I have to switch to a shorter scale, high-F oud? I have a 60 cm Egyptian oud today and really like both the size and the sound.

2. How does one actually enroll in Bait Al Oud? Do they even take beginners with only basic Arabic ability?

Thanks for any information!

/Joshua
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[*] posted on 4-22-2018 at 01:55 AM


Quote: Originally posted by yozhik  
I am a beginning player and am currently studying once a week with a Syrian composer here in Sweden.

In September, I will move to Cairo for 1 year to study Arabic language and continue my oud practice.

I am looking for an oud teacher in Cairo and am wondering what good alternatives there are to Naseer Shamma's Bait Al Oud?

It is the more traditional Arabic music from Egypt and Palestine that made me want to learn oud in the first place, and recently even Gulf players like Abadi Al Johar. I am not particularly interested in the modern Iraqi style and music in the style of Naseer Shamma doesn't really excite me.

Is Bait Al Oud still a good choice, even if I am not interested in that particular style of music? If not, what are some good alternatives in Cairo? Should I just ask around for teachers once I am there?

Two additional questions:

1. If I do study at Bait Al Oud, will I have to switch to a shorter scale, high-F oud? I have a 60 cm Egyptian oud today and really like both the size and the sound.

2. How does one actually enroll in Bait Al Oud? Do they even take beginners with only basic Arabic ability?

Thanks for any information!

/Joshua


You will be able to learn any oud method you prefer at the Arabic Oud House.
Most likely, you won't be taught by Naseer Shamma until you reach a certain level or within group sessions.

You can choose to enroll to learn any of the 3 major oud schools.. Iraqi, Egyptian/Syrian, or Turkish.

This is a great life opportunity my friend, many people dream of going to the Oud House.

I am actually saving up to quit my job and join them soon. lol

Good luck!
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yozhik
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 09:15 AM


Here's a small update now that I've been in Cairo for a few months.

I asked around about teachers when I got here and got lots of recommendations from different music shops and luthiers. I finally settled on taking private lessons with one of the teachers from the Arab Oud House and have have been taking weekly lessons for about 3 months now.

The private lessons more or less follow the Naseer Shamma style of oud education and are based on Naseer Shamma's own compositions. My teacher gives me a piece of a Naseer Shamma composition to work on each week, as well as one or two additional exercises to work on (playing up the neck, chords, etc.)

The lessons have been really helpful in identifying what basic techniques I need to work on (e.g. bad left hand position), as well as introducting me to techniques that are just plain different than the style taught to me by my previous teacher. For example, my teacher insists that the right hand is always alternating up-down-up-down risha strokes as opposed to doing down strokes when changing to a new string (not sure if this is particular to Naseer Shamma's style or just reflects different traditions).

At the same time musically it has been a bit underwhelming. I came all the way to Egypt and yet after 4 months I have still yet to learn anything particularly Egyptian music-wise. While I've improved my basic oud technique, I can't really say my "musicality" has improved or that I've gained a greater understanding of Egyptian/Arabic music. I am not sure if this is due to the style of teaching or if everybody here started off playing simple études for a year before being allowed to learn "real" songs from the Arabic (or Turkish) tradition?

All-in-all I've been happy with these lessons so far and feel that I've progressed a lot faster than I would have if I had just been thrown into group lessons taught in Arabic at the Oud House, but now I'm curious to see what the normal group lessons are like.

I'm off to Istanbul for a month now but I plan on joining the normal classes at Arab Oud House in January, so I will try to post an update about my experience there after a couple months.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 02:23 PM


Do you really mean that your teacher is advising you to play up down up down as opposed to down up down up?

Do our really mean that he is advising you to alternate strokes even when the length of the notes is not even? Suppose you had a quarter note followed by two eighth notes and that pattern repeated. Would he really insist that you play down/up down/up/ down up? As opposed to down/down up/down/down up.

That approach seeks to get one tone color throughout the whole range of the oud. One might as well play xylophone if that is desired.

The approach of starting each new string with a down was common all over the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While I don't stick rigidly to that rule I find that it gives the music a charming old world character. Calace's Italian mandolin technique used this approach.

I think the best approach is to be aware of one's own picking direction and to use the risha deliberately.
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 08:39 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Jody Stecher  

The approach of starting each new string with a down was common all over the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While I don't stick rigidly to that rule I find that it gives the music a charming old world character. Calace's Italian mandolin technique used this approach.

I think the best approach is to be aware of one's own picking direction and to use the risha deliberately.


That's a fascinating idea Jody...

I personally teach my students to use down-up and down-down patterns on the same exercises to master two ways of doing things the same thing. And ultimately teach them to use what suits the music you're playing which one learns over time. Sometimes one approach will be better than the other approach for a particular phrase or melody.





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yozhik
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 11:43 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Jody Stecher  
Do you really mean that your teacher is advising you to play up down up down as opposed to down up down up?

Do our really mean that he is advising you to alternate strokes even when the length of the notes is not even? Suppose you had a quarter note followed by two eighth notes and that pattern repeated. Would he really insist that you play down/up down/up/ down up? As opposed to down/down up/down/down up.



Yes, you are right Jody. My description was not clear. The pattern is indeed down (towards the floor) - up - down - up. I was confused because my teacher uses the word "up" to describe "towards the floor", as in "up towards to higher treble strings". Perhaps an influence from Arabic language? Our lessons are mix of Arabic and English, but for risha technique he always uses the English words "up" and "down".

You are also right about notes of uneven length. For the example with a quarter note followed by two eighth notes it would indeed be down--down-up. And of course we learned other techniques such as triplets, etc which don't use the strictly alternating risha.

What I meant with that example was that in situations with evenly spaced notes (e.g. repeating eigth notes) my teacher insists on always using the alternating risha down-up technique even when changing strings, to the point that I am forced to repeat exercises if I fall back into my old habit of starting a new string with a down stroke.

My previous teacher in Sweden (who has a background from a music conservatory in Syria) recommended a down stroke when changing strings as the more "correct" technique, although he was not strict about it if I forgot to do it as long as I was playing fluently.

My teacher was educated entirely at the Arab Oud House under Naseer Shamma, so I'm guessing that's the technique he learned there and so that's the technique he teaches. My teacher mentioned something about the music sounding more "even" without given unintended emphasis to all the notes that happen to be the first note on a new string. And something about being able to play faster down the road if I stick to this technique. I guess it fits Shamma's style of music which I guess is intended to send less "old world" and more modern, and with a lot of fast passages?

As I said in a previous post, personally I am not super interested in the particular style of music played and taught at the Arab Oud House, but so far the approach to teaching technique has been much more systematic than with my previous teacher and that has been very beneficial to me as a beginner (I don't study at the actually Arab Oud House, but get private lessons from one of the main teachers and follow much of the same curriculum).
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[*] posted on 12-12-2018 at 12:00 AM


Thanks for the detailed answer, yozhik. Now I have a clear picture. Well.... in my opinion... which no one asked for.... being able to play alternating strokes and striving for an even sound cannot hurt anyone's music. It's when a musician does *only* this that the music becomes dull and mechanical. I think the key word in your teacher's method is "unintended". Later you can bring in your first teacher's right hand technique and use it when you intend to.
There is also beauty in letting a well-trained right hand do what it "wants to do". Some good players get out of the way, so to speak, and let the hand run free. But a poorly trained right hand is more likely to produce unclear music.
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[*] posted on 12-12-2018 at 08:29 AM


Hi Yozhik,

I would try to find a way to go see these old guys doing their thing. seems they get together for a concert every so often. I would try to contact the guy who posts all these videos. They call it in Arabic something like "salon of Arabic music and old beautiful art" forgive me the translation isn't very good in English.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwgTKXNf-Rc&feature=share&ap...

unfortunately I am reading in the comments of the video that the wonderful violinist has passed away 5 months ago.

There is also these guys, looks like there is a phone number to reach the guy posting the vids. looks like they need a oud player too :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxJQQ20zdjg&app=desktop




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[*] posted on 12-28-2018 at 05:27 AM


Was that the violinist Abdo Dagher? I hadn't heard that he died, though he was old.



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[*] posted on 12-28-2018 at 08:42 AM


No says his name was Haj Saad Mohammad hassan



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[*] posted on 12-28-2018 at 01:01 PM


In that case - Abdo Dagher apparently has a weekly gathering at his house, which will be about as different from Naseer Shamma's place as you can get.



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[*] posted on 12-29-2018 at 06:02 AM


I was in Cairo for five months and visited Beit Al Oud. It really depends from what you are looking for. If that is the style you are looking for, then you got to the right place.
Personally Im more into Hazem Shaheen style of playing. And I had the incredible chance to study personally with him.
If you change your mind, or if you are searching fro something like that, I could put you in touch.

All best
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