Our Piano Teacher Christine just came back to the Bay Area after a year in Erbil, Iraq, where she taught Music and Music History to middle school and high school students. Today, she is here to tell us about her story.
Can you tell us more about your time in Iraq? What motivated you to go there?
When I heard about the current situation of people in the Middle East, my heart sank. All I could think about was the young generation in dire need. I asked my two teenage sons whether they could go and stay there for a year. Thankfully, they agreed with that.
Looking back, it took time to adjust to a different culture but the people there made my transition easier. I don't regret the decision that we made. In fact, we are deeply grateful for the time in Iraq. Life is once and I want to live a true one.
What positive changes have you noticed from your students in Iraq when they gain exposure to liberal study?
Iraq is currently at war and has been under instability for the last 15 years. This led to limitations in every aspect of life for the young people. The war took away their smiles. I believe in the power of music, which connects people and release positive emotions. That’s why I brought music to the children in Erbil.
And how did it change you after the trip?
My two sons learned to appreciate what they have in America. And I will continue to reach out and help others.
Were there any challenges in teaching Music for children in Erbil and how did you overcome that?
It was a bit hard to teach music to them because they have different music languages and concepts. Nowadays, through the media many young people in the Middle East listen to pop songs or raps which are made of Western music foundations. On the other hand, few have learned Western Music Theory, or have played the piano or any other instruments. Moreover, in their culture they love to dance but singing is not a free thing to do. However, my students were so eager to learn and I tried simple approaches to keep them interested. It worked out wonderfully! Many students loved to sing and learn the piano after my lessons.
What is something that you will never forget about Erbil?
Iraq is located between Persia and Arab, so there is a great diversity of people, cultures and so on. Erbil is a good place to experience diversity in every aspects. A majority are Kurds but due to the current situation you could meet Arabs from Southern Iraq and Assyrians from the Northern part like Mosul and Syrians. I will never forget the people and friends I’ve met in Erbil, Iraq.
After what you've seen in Iraq, is there a message you would like to send to Opus 1 students?
In this world—I want to call it a community—there are so many people who are suffering. Life can not be completed nor meaningful if we are just concerned about ourselves. In my opinion, to make the community better, we should reach out to others and share their hardships. I hope that Opus 1 students will share the same belief and have a meaningful life. First, be thankful for all the opportunities you have. Second, learn diligently and use all the knowledges and resources to help the people around you. Lastly, when you do that, never give up and have the confidence that the people around you will see the changes!
About Christine (Level I Piano Teacher):
Christine has been an accompanist for various musical performances such as choirs, musical, vocalists, ensembles, and instrumental performers for over 30 years. Since 1993 she has been teaching piano and music theory. During the past few years, Christine and her family stayed in Iraq to help Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
B.M. Musicology and Music Theory at Korea National University of Arts
Schedule a piano trial lesson and get to know Christine now!