Learning Percussion with Mr. Hafez


“Doom, doom, tika tak, doom, tika tak, tika.” This is what I hear on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays when walking the halls and auditorium of Moffet Elementary School.

Although I have only been working with Al-Bustan for roughly three months, I have seen and experienced enough to know that Mr. Hafez is doing something amazing when teaching the Moffet students. Not only are the children mind-blowing percussionists (if you do not believe me, watch this video, kinds are focused and attentive to everything Mr. Hafez says and demonstrates.

Mr. Hafez’s pedagogical approach is simple but effective; he teaches via the “I do, you do, we do” method. Simply put, Mr. Hafez demonstrates the drumming rhythm, he then asks the students to reproduce it, and finally, Mr. Hafez and the class come together to drum the rhythm. Once there is a level of confidence established, students perform solo in front of their peers while Mr. Hafez listens and watches for mistakes.

The students are such fast listeners; I am shocked at how quickly they can pick up a rhythm and immediately demonstrate it! Another method that Mr. Hafez uses is “checking for understanding.” He asks students to name the different types of beats, rhythms, and different names for the tabla, known as the drum in Arabic. It’s amazing to see how many hands go up in excitement to answer

Personally speaking, my favorite part is when the students drum and Mr. Hafez throws in his witty jokes and statements: “Angel, you’re almost as good as I am. At this rate, you’ll be all over YouTube and T.V. pretty soon!” The students love the recognition and appreciation, and as a result, they try harder and are more eager to learn. Watching the students grow and enjoy making music puts such a smile on my face—it is such a pleasure to work with this school, program, and organization.

Zahia Mustafa
Program Assistant

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