Mahmoud Kohail, eight, has studied the qanoon for just under a year, but took first prize in a Palestine-wide competition in oriental music for ages seven to 11. "Everyone asked me how many years he had been studying," laughs Najjar. "When I told them it had been only 80 hours, they couldn't believe me."
Emad Kohail, Mahmoud's father, is an accomplished oud player, and his mother a talented singer. Also a doctor of mental health and alternative medicine, Emad Kohail explains how music has helped his son.
"Mahmoud suffered the same post-traumatic stress disorder [(PTSD)] that nearly all Gaza's children suffer, as well as an attention deficit disorder," he says. "Music has made an immense difference in Mahmoud's behavior. It has been a therapy for his PTSD and as a means of teaching him to focus."
Ibrahim Najjar agrees that music is therapy, and constructive for children's learning and mental health. "There is a big difference in the students' behavior from when they first came. Now, they are calmer, and listen and respect each other. I teach them this, but also to behave like this in all aspects of their lives."
David Plays the Harp for Saul
I Samuel 16
Samuel saw seven young men from the house of Jesse, yet were the one God had chosen as king. Samuel asked, "Are these all your children?"
"There is one more," said Jesse. "The youngest of all. He is a boy in the field caring for the sheep."
And Samuel said, "Send for him; for we will not sit down until he comes." So after a time the youngest son was brought in. His name was David, a word that means "darling," and he was a beautiful boy, perhaps fifteen years old, with fresh cheeks and bright eyes. As soon as the young David came, the Lord said to Samuel, "Arise; anoint him, for this is the one whom I have chosen."
David Anointed King
Then Samuel poured oil on David's head, in the presence of all his brothers. But no one knew at that time the anointing to mean that David was to be the king. Perhaps they thought that David was chosen to be a prophet like Samuel.
From that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon David; and he began to show signs of coming greatness. He went back to his sheep on the hillsides around Bethlehem, but God was with him. David grew up strong and brave; not afraid of the wild beasts which prowled around and tried to carry away his sheep. More than once he fought with lions and bears, and killed them, when they seized the lambs of his flock. And David, alone all day, practiced throwing stones in a sling, until he could strike exactly the place for which he aimed. When he swung his sling, he knew that the stone would go to the very spot at which he was throwing it.
And, young as he was, David thought of God, and prayed to God. And God talked with David, and showed to David his will. And David was more than a shepherd and a fighter of wild beasts. He played upon the harp, and made music, and sang songs about the goodness of God to his people.
David Plays Before Saul
But while the Spirit of God came to David among his sheep, that Spirit left King Saul, because he no longer obeyed God's words. Then Saul became very unhappy, and gloomy in his feelings. There were times when he seemed to lose his mind, and a madness would come upon him; and at almost all times Saul was sad and full of trouble, because he was no more at peace with God.
The servants around Saul noticed that when some one played on the harp and sang, Saul's gloom and trouble passed away, and he became cheerful. At one time Saul said, "Find some one who can play well, and bring him to me. Let me listen to music; for it drives away my sadness." One of the young men said:
"I have seen a young man, a son of Jesse in Bethlehem, who can play well. He is handsome in his looks, and agreeable in talking. Then I have heard that he is a brave young man, who can fight as well as he can play; and the Lord is with him."
Then Saul sent a message to Jesse, David's father. He said: "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep. Let him come and play before me."
Then David came to Saul, bringing with him a present for the king from Jesse. When Saul saw him, he loved him, as did everybody who saw the young David. And David played on the harp, and sang before Saul. And David's music cheered Saul's heart, and drove away his sad feelings.
Saul liked David so well that he made him his armor-bearer; and David carried the shield and spear and sword for Saul when the king was before his army. But Saul did not know that David had been anointed by Samuel. If he had known it, he would have been very jealous of David.
After a time Saul seemed well, and David left him, to be a shepherd once more at Bethlehem.