The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21 May) celebrates the peace-building role of culture, including music. During Covid-19, the innovative SAT-7 KIDS program Rhythm and Melody brings this and many more benefits of music education direct to children – the Middle East’s future peacemakers.

“Music is an instrument of peace, an international language that can unite all peoples and help them understand one another,” says Nissrine el Hosny, presenter and producer of Rhythm and Melody, which has run for two seasons on SAT-7 KIDS.

Nissrine el Hosny greets children live on Facebook during the pandemic.

During lockdown, el Hosny has connected with viewers in real time via Facebook Live. The special content she has produced, which harnesses music’s power to build resilience, includes music-based games and helps children create their own pieces using everyday items such as kitchen utensils. Meanwhile, past episodes of Rhythm and Melody – covering everything from traditional Middle Eastern instruments to finding rhythm in our own bodies – are also being shared for children to watch at their own pace.

“This program is really amazing,” writes one viewer. “So much interesting information – for musicians as well as for kids. Nissrine’s work is so remarkable!” Many others have responded positively, with 92 percent of viewers saying in a recent poll that the show has taught them something completely new. The episodes are also being used as the music curriculum in several schools and colleges.

A child plays the qanun on Rhythm and Melody.

“There is no other program like Rhythm and Melody in the Arab World. It helps children learn by exploring the world around them,” says el Hosny, who has more than 20 years’ experience teaching music education. The program builds bridges between cultures by teaching children about different Middle Eastern and worldwide musical traditions. “This is essential learning,” she says, “because once we each understand our own culture, we can better understand and appreciate others.”

Music education offers viewers many other life-enhancing benefits that many would not otherwise be able to access. “Music plays a huge role in our psychological growth, and there is a lot of data proving that it aids brain development,” says el Hosny. “During my classes, when I allow the children ten minutes to simply listen to music, I notice behavioural changes. The majority will start writing or even drawing; music helps them express themselves, and it can be an engine for healing.” Rhythm and Melody has been particularly appreciated by children with disabilities or learning difficulties, with some repeating the same seven-minute episode many times for its therapeutic effects. Previous SAT-7 projects have also shown the positive impact for refugee children when they connect with their own cultures.

The new Rhythm and Melody content is part of SAT-7’s pandemic response in the area of education, which also includes programs covering many other areas of the curriculum. “This program is ideal for supporting parents and children in their efforts to continue with education while schools are closed, as it follows a music curriculum that not only entertains but educates,” says Nicoletta Michael, SAT-7’s Development Manager.


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