There were two things that happened to me as result of this insight regarding the particular characteristics of the quarter notes in the oriental scales. Firstly, I learned to aesthetically appreciate melodies that I was unable to “digest” previously. This is of course a personal interpretation, however, in my opinion there are daring and powerful emotions that lie hidden in those small intervals - as well as extreme yearning and passion. I learned to love the diversity that is thus made possible, and even comprehend that the rich melody serves as a substitute for the developed harmony of the West.
Secondly, this insight gave me the power to forgo the quarter-tones in the songs I compose for the kindergarten, since this stemmed from an attentiveness to the needs of the children, and not due to lack of respect for the other culture. The fact that a significant percentage of oriental music does not include quarter tones also reinforced my decision in this matter, as did the fact that this musical culture has other significant characteristics as well.
When all is said and done, though, I believe that the mood that I am in when I interact with the kindergarten children is more important than the tune that I sing. This mood serves to reinforce the flexibility and moderation that guide my attitude to almost every pedagogical rule.
Therefore, prior to telling a story in the Ein Bustan kindergarten, we sing the following song, which helps both the storyteller and the children to get into the appropriate mood:
Words in Arabic: Olah Adeem Zeidan, Music: Amir Shlomian
Translation to English: Rachel Gottlieb
Our Queen, Queen of Dreams:
Please open your magical story chest for us!
Please tell us your story:
and then, on a magic carpet
we shall fly away with you.
We sing the song in a manner that encourages peaceful, quiet and attentive listening. This particular song is always sung in Arabic, however the story that follows could be either in Hebrew or in Arabic. In other moments in the day’s routine, we may use Hebrew for a particular occasion, so that the picture remains balanced and harmony maintained between the two languages.
The image that the song evokes, that of the magic carpet, is taken from the Arab cultural heritage. The story that is told after the song may be one that is taken from the European tradition (such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales), a story from the Jewish tradition or a tale from Arab culture.