Learning an instrument may be a tedious exercise for some. But Dr Saida Khalilova, Director of MMAA and the piano teacher with over 20 years of experience in teaching kids and adults from various backgrounds, makes the experience a pleasure to pursue.
Students of Muscat Music and Art Academy (MMAA) are not just rote learners of notes and chords. They acquire lifelong love of music and culture.
“Building a robust system of artistic education that is all-encompassing in its development of students with a holistic musical and cultural mastery is our aim. Our long-term plan is to work towards making MMAA as not only a reputable academy in Oman, but also in the entire region,” explains Dr Saida.
“The plan for the academy is to make further progress in its curriculum as well as its quality of education. With the introduction of a new curriculum will provide for a holistic understanding of music to students and continue towards a comprehensive curriculum. This is a crucial part of building a fundamentally sound mastery of musical sciences,” she explains.
Take the case of young Omanis Ammar al Hadhrani and Majda al Kiyumi. Instructors at MMAA say 17-year-old Ammar displayed incredible progress throughout his study at the academy. “He started to compose small music pieces of his own on the piano and the guitar. He is someone who could represent the Omani youth in the future within the artistic fraternity,” they say.
Ammar, Grade 8, says listening to music made him learn music theory, which got him interested in improvising on piano. “My aim is to be able to improvise in all key signatures and become a professional pianist,” he says as his music pieces composition are small couplets of tunes.
While Majda, Grade 7, has made strides honing her piano skills as she currently prepares for an international competition. Due to her fantastic repertoire, her music instructors look forward to her success.
Toufiq al Lawati, Sulaiman al Fahdi, Haya Feysal, Asad and Aseel al Sairi, Hamid Sulaiman, Alean Nsoyli, Joud al Farsi, Taimour al Ajmi and Bashar al Khatiri are among the new generation of Omani kids trained under her and will go on to represent Oman’s classical music scene in future.
Dr Saida says there is a growing trend among Omani kids to learn piano, the king of all instruments.
This semester MMAA plans to introduce a curriculum of new courses in Solfeggio, Music Literature and Music History, which will enable them to put together a comprehensive curriculum for musical and artistic education as a whole.
For the upcoming fall-winter season, MMAA plans to prepare two Omani students for the competition.
The academy’s exam certificates are given by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
Alena Deeks, principal, teacher and choreographer at Ballet and Folklore Centre, says she is proud to be associated with the MMAA’s activities in organising concerts and performances. “The students have wonderful knowledge and they lend admirable support to the teachers, musicians and academicians who are very professional,” she says.
Lala Ismailova, a piano teacher from Azerbaijan who teaches at the academy, says, “The teaching environment is beautiful and it is a joy to work with students who are enthusiastic about their classes and a delight to work alongside Dr Saida, my teacher.”
Heena Kothary, art teacher, says students enjoy learning different techniques using various mediums like acrylic paints, oil paints, water paints and dry pastels. “We have different projects which focus on art skills like sketching, colouring and painting. Through arts, students develop skills like resilience, grit, and a mindset to help them master their craft, excel academically, and succeed in life.”
Dr Saida Khalilova has helped raise many students in teaching music which has helped to polish and perfect her craft. She has also developed teaching methods that prioritise the fast and efficient growth of her students over the years.