CMS Faculty Member Travels to Kurdistan with American Voices

Vera Parkin gives a piano lesson in the Community Music School Community Music School faculty member Vera Parkin, who teaches piano, has the unprecedented opportunity to teach at the National Conservatory in Sulaymaniyah, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, through the cultural diplomacy agency American Voices

The opportunity is “unprecedented” because piano instruction is not readily accessible there. Pianists in Kurdistan are more likely to learn by ear or by watching YouTube videos than from teachers who have been trained to teach music. And the opportunity to affect positive change is far greater than just offering lessons to a few students. 

Parkin’s previous teaching experiences through American Voices in Lebanon show that introducing properly sequenced pedagogical methods and practices has a lasting impact. 

“The Kurdish people have endured difficulty and change. Every culture benefits from the presence of beauty in the lives of its people,” Parkin said. “Just as Dr. Suzuki introduced Western classical music to the Japanese to help them heal from World War II, creating a cultural bridge, American Voices seeks to introduce classical music to all corners of the world.”

Parkin will be in Kurdistan for 10 days and will stay with the family of Kurdish violinist Rebin Ali, who lived with Parkin and her husband while completing a bachelor’s in Music and Suzuki training. 

“Meeting his family has been a dream of mine,” Parkin said. “Staying with them and being part of the American Voices team assures me safety. I'm grateful for this opportunity to share with young Kurdish musicians.” 

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