Private Arabic Music Instruction

Jun 01, 2014-Jul 13, 2014

Teachers: Amir ElSaffar;Zafer Tawil;George Ziadeh

Alwan for the Arts is pleased to announce that we will begin offering private instruction in Arab music, taught by musicians selected from the roster of acclaimed performers that we have showcased over the past years.  Please contact to inquire.  

About the Program

 Classes will be held at Alwan for the Arts, on the 4th Floor of 16 Beaver Street.

 Schedules are to be coordinated on an individual basis. Minimum of 6-week lesson packages. 

Cost: $75/hour

Areas of Instruction

Oud– technical instruction in the Arabic lute, open to all levels.

Percussion – instruction in the different rhythms and percussive techniques of Arabic music, on the riqq (Arabic tambourine) and the Durbakkeh (goblet drum), open to all levels.

Qanun – Instruction in the Arabic zither, open to all levels.

Violin – instruction in the Arabic style of violin performance, open to violinists of intermediate and advanced levels.

Other String Instruments: Viola, Cello, Bass – technical instruction in the Arabic style of string instrument performance, open to intermediate and advanced levels. 

Instructor Bios

Amir ElSaffar (Iraqi Maqam, santoor)

Amir ElSaffar, trumpeter, composer, singer, and santoor player, is garnering an international reputation for his work, both in the traditional Iraqi Maqam and in jazz music. Raised in an Iraqi-American home in Chicago, Illinois, Amir was influenced by an array of musical styles, including Classical, Rock, Jazz, Blues, Arabic classical and folk music and the Iraqi Maqam. Amir has developed a new approach to playing the trumpet, which utilizes the microtuning and ornaments that are characteristic to Arabic music. In addition, he is one of the few in the world that has mastered the Iraqi Maqam, both on the santoor (Iraqi hammered-dulcimer) and as a vocalist.

Zafer Tawil (oud, violin, qanun, percussion)
Zafer Tawil is a virtuoso on oud, violin, and qanun, and a master of Arab percussion. He has performed in concerts across the country, including performances with numerous musicians ranging from Sting to Arab music virtuosos Cheb Mami, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, George Ziadeh, to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe. He was a featured composer and performer in acclaimed director Jonathan Demme's Oscar-nominated film,Rachel Getting Married. Zafer is composing and performing for Demme’s next film project, Zeitoun, based on Dave Eggers’ book about Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s post-Hurricane Katrina odyssey. He has worked on many collaborative concerts involving classical Indian and Persian music as well as Arab/jazz fusions and has held workshops on Arab music at many institutions and universities across the United States. A native of Jerusalem, Palestine, he resides in New York City.

George Ziadeh (oud, voice)
George Ziadeh was born and raised in Birzeit, Palestine, and pursued music from a young age. In 1986 he moved to the United States, where he studied oud with Simon Shaheen, and classical singing and voice with Youssef Kassab, with whom he has toured extensively across the country. George has performed and lectured with such ensembles and institutions as the University of Chicago’s Middle East Music Ensemble with Issa Boulos, the University of Colorado (Boulder), Alwan for the Arts, the United Nations (invited by Kofi Annan), and annually at the Columbia University Department of Ethnomusicology. In 2008, George was a featured solo and ensemble performer in the “Brooklyn Maqam” Festival of Arab Music. From 1995 to 1997 George taught at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, and at Birzeit University. George is considered an authority in maqam and Arab classical repertoire.


  • Students are encouraged to provide their own instruments.  Rental of some instruments may be available through Alwan. Please enquire for more details.

We hope you will join us for these very exciting classes!  Please contact to inquire and register.


Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

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16 Beaver Street
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New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
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