Class: Private & Group Music & Dance Instruction

Mon, October 15, 2012 6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all classes »)

Beginning October 15
Ongoing registration throughout the semester - email for details

Alwan for the Arts continues group and private Arab Music and Dance Instruction this fall. Opportunities are available for beginners and seasoned students of all ages to learn fundamentals of Arab music and/or study specialized topics, learning to sing and perform traditional and popular songs along, studying dance in an all-woman setting, and learning to play and jam on Arabic percussion instruments. Private lessons are also available on traditional as well as Western instruments and voice.

Gaida | Zafer Tawil
Ramzi Edlibi | Asmaa ElTaher | Ahmad Gamal

Email with questions or to register.

Course offerings and descriptions:

Group Instruction: all ages and levels

    Women's Dance Circle, 90 min, Asmaa ElTaher
    Sundays 12:00pm-1:30pm; Oct 21 - Dec 16; 8 sessions
    No class 11/22
    (max. 25 students)

    Learn to dance traditional social Egyptian or "sharqi" dance in a fun and relaxes women-only setting.The Dance Circle will offer women an opportunity to learn new styles of "raqs" (dance) typically performed in different social contexts across the Middle East, such as weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions.

    Arab Rhythm Circle, 75 min, Zafer Tawil
    Mondays, 6:15pm-7:30pm; Oct 15 - Dec 3; 8 sessions
    (max. 20 students)
    Each week, this course will focus on presenting and performing 2-3 new rhythms typical of Arab classical and folk songs from across the greater Middle East in an invigorating and fun group setting. Students will learn the basic rhythms and play them as a group as Zafer demonstrates specialized ornaments and techniques for the daf (frame drum), darbuke, and riqq.

    Arab Vocal Traditions, 75 min, Gaida
    Mondays, 7:45-9:00pm; Oct 15 - Dec 10; 8 sessions
    No class 11/19
    (max. 25 students)
    Gaida will teach songs selected from folk, tarab and hymnal traditions of Syria and the Arab world. Students will discover melodies using the maqam modal system and be trained to hear and sing the quartertones essential to these modes. These melodies will then be worked into improvisations and students will learn to ornament them in the characteristic styles of Arab vocalists.
    Iqa'at wa Harakat: Rhythms and Dances of the Middle East and North Africa, 120 min, Ramzi Edlibi
    Saturdays, 3:00-5:00pm; Oct 20 - Dec 15; 8 sessions
    No class 11/24
    A different folk dance and rhythm is introduced in each class. This course will focus on polyrhythmic songs and their accompanying dances from various parts of the Middle East and North Africa, including 2 sessions on Debkeh and one session focusing on dances from each of the following countries: Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, and Morocco.

    Group Instruction Pricing:

    Single $20
    4 classes $72 ($18/class)
    8 classes $120 ($15/class)

  • If a student decides to enroll in a package of classes, the first single sessions already paid for will count as the first lesson of the package and its price will be deducted from the overall cost.
  • Students enrolling in a single class or package of 4 or 8 may choose to attend any session throughout the semester.
  • If a student decides to enroll in a package after taking one single class, the single session will count as the first class of the package and its price will be deducted from the overall cost.
  • Combination packages available and customizable to student’s preferences (e.g. 4 classes in Arab Vocal Traditions + 4 classes in Arab Rhythm Circle Percussion=$120)
  • Students may attend classes without registering by paying the "single" class price of $20 cash or check made payable to the Alwan Foundation, but please check the website to confirm that class is meeting on the day you decide to attend, and, if possible, email to let us know when you plan to attend.
  • Classes will be held so long as a minimum number of students are enrolled by the end of the registration period.

Private Lessons: beginner, intermediate, and advanced

    One-on-one instruction of instrument technique, stylistic ornamentation, taqasim (improvisation), and repertoire.Small group lessons (2-4 students) also possible; email for further details.

    Instruments offered:
    Violin – Zafer Tawil
    ‘Oud – Zafer Tawil
    QanunZafer Tawil
    PercussionZafer Tawil
    Voice Ahmad Gamal, Gaida
    (See faculty biographies below for more information)

    Other Instruments (guitar, piano, cello, woodwinds, brass, etc.): Alwan for the Arts invites intermediate, advanced, and professional performers of instruments not listed here to study fundamentals of Arabic musical style including intonation, maqamat (modes), iqa’at (rhythms), ornamentation, taqasim (improvisation), and repertoire with one of our instructors. Please email for more information.

    Scheduling Policy: All private lessons are scheduled through the Alwan for the Arts office based on student, teacher, and space availability. If, after scheduling, a student cannot make his or her scheduled time, Alwan will attempt to reschedule at the teacher's discretion; however, Alwan cannot guarantee that this will always be possible. If a teacher cannot make a scheduled lesson time, the lesson will be rescheduled taking into account student, teacher, and space availability.

    Private Lesson Pricing:

    Trial Lesson*: $35 (30 minutes), $60 (60 minutes)
    Single Lessons: $45 (30 minutes), $70 (60 minutes)


    4 lessons 30 minutes $170 ($42.50/lesson)
    4 lessons 60 minutes $260 ($65/lesson)
    8 lessons 30 minutes $320 ($40/lesson)
    8 lessons 60 minutes $500 ($62.50/lesson)
    12 lessons 30 minutes $420 ($35/lesson)
    12 lessons 60 minutes $720 ($60/lesson)

    *One trial lesson may be taken per student (offered at the lowest package rate of $35/half-hour or $60/hour). If a student decides to enroll in a package of lessons, the trial lesson will count as the first lesson of the package and its price will be deducted from the overall cost.
    **Alwan members receive 10-15% discounts on lessons! Click here to learn more about membership options and view discount levels.

Instrument Rental: Interested in learning Arabic music but don’t have the right instrument? Students may rent or buy instruments for at-home practice through Alwan for the Arts, including the ‘oud, qanun, santur, and percussion (pending availability). Arrangements can also be made to rent Western instruments such as trumpet and violin. Please email for further details.

To register for classes or private lessons for the March 3-May 25 semester, email with:

  • Instrument you'd like to study and/or class(es) you're interested in taking
  • Number of sessions in which you'd like to enroll
  • Level and/or experience (so we can place you with an appropriate teacher)
  • Preferred instructor (optional - if not requested, we will match you with an instructor who fits what you are looking for in Arab music study)

Make sure to mention if you are a member of Alwan - many of our membership levels receive 10-15% discounts on lessons! Click here to learn more about membership options and view discount.

Ongoing registration throughout the semester -email for details
**Students may attend group classes without registering by paying the "single" class price of $20 cash or check made payable to the Alwan Foundation, but please check the website to confirm that class is meeting on the day you decide to attend.

Please feel free to email with any questions related to music instruction at Alwan.

P.S. Keep up-to-date with Alwan to hear more about guest artists and special events.

Faculty Biographies:

Asmaa Yehia ElTaher (dance) is an accomplished Egyptian television, film and theater actor. Asmaa is an Egyptian Visiting Scholar at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center/CUNY Graduate Center. She is currently working on her Ph.D. thesis on African theater. Eltaher is an assistant lecturer in the Theater Department in the Faculty of Arts at Egypt’s Helwan University. She has two undergraduate degrees (in sociology and in drama and criticism), as well as an Master of Arts in drama and criticism.”

Ahmad Gamal (vocal instruction) is an Egyptian singer and actor, has been a solo vocalist of the Arabic Music Orchestra of the Opera House in Cairo, Egypt since 2001. Ahmad earned a Bachelor’s degree in Greco-Roman Archeology & Civilization from the University of Alexandria, Egypt and worked in the art center at the Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt. His professional career as an artist began in the early 90’s. Since then, Ahmad has taken part in multiple Egyptian TV series and performed in national and international concerts, world summits, and Festivals around the Arab world, Europe, and the United States. He has performed in several celebrations of historical events including the 50th anniversary of the July 23rd Egyptian Revolution at the Opera House in Cairo, the opening of the Library of Alexandria in front of 32 world leaders, and The International Women’s Day in Amman, Jordan.

Gaida (vocal instruction) is one of the most “effusive and charming vocalists in the New York world music scene.” Gaida performs “entrancing” innovative interpretations of Syrian folk songs, originals, and freestyle improvisations over Arabic grooves. The wide range of musical styles heard within Gaida’s music reflects the diversity of her background. One song may capture the vocal finesse and tenderness of Fairuz, or highly ornate vocal stylings reminiscent of Oum Kalthoum, contrasted by a slow, sultry blues number, followed by a Brazilian, samba-like piece. These various styles flow together organically and naturally; tied together by Gaida's depth of soul and her evocative and expressive voice, which transcends genre and drives directly into the listener's heart. Gaida and her band were featured in Jonathan Demme’s, Rachel Getting Married and Jimmy Carter Man from Planes. Gaida recorded with Robyn Hitchcock, Gillian Welch and Alejandro Escovedo. She performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, BAM, Joe’s Pub, Le Poisson Rouge, and many world music festivals.

Zafer Tawil ('oud, violin, qanun, percussion) is a virtuoso on ‘oud, violin, and qanun, and a master of Arab percussion. Zafer has performed in concerts across the country, including performances with numerous musicians ranging from Sting to Arab music virtuosos Chab Mami, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba and 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 and is composing and performing for Demme’s next film project, Zeitoun, based on Dave Eggers’ book about Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s post-Hurricane Katrina odyssey. Zafer has worked on many collaboration concerts involving classical Indian and Persian music as well as Arab/jazz fusion. He 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.

Last updated: 2012-10-02 13:12:12

Alwan for the Arts

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

Alwan Auction 2016

Join Our Mailing List:



Classes are currently being scheduled. Please check back soon for updates.



There are currently no upcoming events.


16 Beaver Street
4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
Email Us

Alwan for the Arts is accessible to people with disabilities. Please call 646 732 3261 in advance, or, buzz at the door to arrange a ramp.

© 2020 Alwan for the Arts

Hosting donated by:, the Arabic Encyclopedia