Performing miracles

A program at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance is especially suited for busy adults who want to pursue their dreams.

Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you have dreams or aspirations that are connected to music in any way, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD), on the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University, has a program that can help bring them to fruition.
As part of its Institute of Adult Education, a course called Fulfill Your Dreams or Return to an Old Love is especially suited for busy adults who want to pursue their dreams. Classes meet every Thursday evening and Friday morning at the Jerusalem Academy.
Sorina Dinur, director of the JAMD Institute for External Study Programs, explains the vision of the program.
“Tailored after the adult music program at the Mannes College of Music in New York, our program offers adults – non-matriculating students – the opportunity to have not only private lessons but also a wide array of courses that complement and expand their music experience. At JAMD, we offer adults courses such as basic theory, the history of choral singing, improvisation and jazz.”
Dinur points out that the teachers and lecturers involved in the program are all graduates of the academy or members of the staff. The program is open to anyone from the age of 18 with or without musical experience. Aside from the tuition fee, which she calls “cost-friendly,” there is only one requirement: a thirst to learn music.
When the JAMD initially opened its adult division in the fall of 2009, more than 100 students registered.
Some were amateur musicians, many were not. The student body consists of people from all walks of life, who are returning to their old love, music. There are adults who are working, as well as pensioners with more free time.
Many of the adult students come from the Jerusalem area, while others travel in for their music classes.
Quite a few are parents of children and teens who study in the academy’s high school and conservatory who would like to share music with their family.
Such is the case of Tamar Mokadi, whose 14-yearold son is studying clarinet in the high school program of the Jerusalem Academy, and whose nineyear- old daughter is learning the harp at the JAMD conservatory.
“There is a great deal of music going on in our house,” Mokadi says, “and it is important that we find a common language. I admit that learning music as an adult is a challenge; nevertheless, it is also an open door for personal growth.”
She takes two music theory courses, which complement each other, and she sings in an adult choir.
“When I leave the academy on Friday mornings, I am so happy that I just float out,” she says.
This is the feeling that Prof. Ilan Schul, president of JAMD, wants to instill in all the program’s participants.
Schul, known among students and faculty for his welcoming demeanor, uses the same attitude of reaching out and caring to the general community as well.
“The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance is not a castle in the air but part and parcel of cultural life of Israel,” he says. “Our function is not only to train students to be excellent teachers, musicians and dancers but also to enhance the cultural life of all of our citizens. Our projects range from helping stage community opera productions to sending performers and teachers to give classes and seminars all over the country, thereby opening windows to the arts and serving up music, which is food that feeds the soul.”
He explains that the adult curriculum maintains the school’s high standards. Tailored to adults, each course has innovation and depth. “When a course or lesson supports one’s dreams, it enables the person to grow,” says Schul.
Dinur knows about going after one’s dreams. An accomplished musician and pianist and a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy, Hebrew University and New York University, she has experience building program for adults around what she terms small “boutique classes,” where interaction between teacher and instructor is high.
“The biggest hurdle for an adult,” says Dinur, “is overcoming the fear of trying something new. For example, a man who is over 30 comes to register and says, ‘I want to learn piano, but I am too old.’ We say in return, ‘Let’s try one lesson,’ leaving the new venture open-ended, and he can (and usually does) go on from there,” she says.
The lectures series are given by accomplished people in their fields, such as pianist and radio personality Prof. Alexander Tamir and Dr. Ron Regev, who delight in connecting with their audience.
Dr. Stephen Horenstein, who grew up in the Boston North Shore, speaks in English in his class The Art of Listening, and loves to spoil his students by taping his lectures and putting them on the Internet so students can listen to them as often as they like. He also distributes CDs of the music heard in class.
Horenstein equates great music with great wine.
“It is my custom to buy a bottle of wine for Shabbat, and for years I bought an average bottle. Then I became intrigued in learning about wines through books by Daniel Rogov. Now I know how to enjoy a range of complex tastes, as well as how to realize the depth of the tasting experience,” he says.
“Relating this principle to music,” he continues, “music research documents that the sense of hearing is one of our most neglected senses. In general, people listen, partaking of the outer layers of music, and miss the innermost beauty. I endeavor to present music in a holistic framework, concentrating on materials that are common to all types of music be it Duke Ellington, electronic music or Bach. Given this framework, people have the tools to deepen their pleasure of listening to music.”
Horenstein says he enjoys teaching adults because they are his peers. “We share the same empathy and caring and probably have shared many of the same life experiences. We understand that to appreciate the joyful moments in life is of the essence, and music is one of these moments.”
The best part of his role as a teacher, he says, is igniting the wow factor in his students. And the most rewarding part is when the class members take away something that deeply touches them.
“It is my hope that they will continue in the pursuit of their dreams and enjoy the journey through music,” he says.

The fall semester of Fulfill Your Dreams or Return to an Old Love begins on October 14. For further information:; Sorina Dinur: 675-9909; or e-mail: