Reem’s WOMAD workshop 2023

For WOMAD, click this link: Reem’s WOMAD workshop 2023.

Sacred Sounds Women’s Choir, Manchester

Reem taught and led the Choir in the performance of Arabic and Sufi songs, alongside other singing workshop leaders. You can watch the Choir in concert, January 2015:

Sacred Sounds Women’s Choir — Showcase Event from Sacred Sounds Women’s Choir on Vimeo.

Calderdale, West Yorkshire

Reem designed and led a two-week programme of singing workshops at Calder High School, Old Town and Parkinson Lane Primary Schools, culminating in a performance of Arabic song by the combined groups of the two primary schools in front of a packed house of parents and teachers, October 2013. Supported by Calderdale Music Hub and funded by the Arts Council of England.

“Reem's character and skill were overwhelming! The kids all took something really positive away from the workshops and even those tougher couple of groups all achieved and have had their eyes opened to something totally new - thank you for this. ” Music teacher, Calder High School

“Reem has such a positive energy and a great way with the students. ” Senior arts teacher, Calder High School

Musicport Festival, Whitby, North Yorkshire

As part of Musicport Festival, Reem gave a singing workshop for the students at Whitby Community College. You can watch them singing as they join Reem on stage at Musicport Festival to perform Salla Fina ("Beautiful Colour") by Sayyid Darwish, October 2012:

Upton-by-Chester High School, Cheshire

As part of Arabic Culture Week, Reem gave a series of workshops involving some 150 students, plus a more focussed programme with the school choir, leading to a performance of Arabic song in front of the entire school, July 2012.

Reem teaching the school choir to sing "Zourouni".

Birkbeck Primary School, Sidcup, Kent

A day of workshops in Arabic and Palestinian singing with Years 3 and 5, July 2012.

“I honestly can't thank you enough, Reem, for a truly amazing experience. I could probably write an essay on my experiences alone, from the gradual build up during the workshop, to Reem's exceptional behaviour management and ability to 'read/tune in to' others' emotions...not to mention the most amazing voice.” School governor, Birkbeck Primary School

You can download the evaluation of Reem's workshop by Aishah Safdar, school governor, which includes feedback by the children.

Surrey Square school, Walworth, London

As part of Refugee Week's Celebrating Sanctuary Festival, Reem gave workshops to the children, June 2012.

Reem teaching beat and off-beat percussion, with a wonderful display by the children of Surrey Square School of a percussion composition which they had themselves developed beforehand with their excellent teacher Gareth Hackney.

Conservatory of Music, Shanghai

Full workshop on Arabic and Palestinian music at one of the world's foremost academies, May 2011.
Shanghai Conservatory of Music

Solhi al-Wadi Institute for Music, Damascus

Reem gave masterclasses for teachers and pupils at the Institute, August 2009
Honorary teaching certificate Damascus

Adult Learner’s Week, Burngreave, Sheffield

As part of Adult Learner’s Week provision, May 2009, Reem also led a workshop just for women on the following morning at Sorby House on Spital Hill. This surpassed even the excellence of the previous evening’s performance. Women from a dozen different nationalities were supported into learning and performing each others songs. Language didn’t matter! It was a very emotional morning.

“It was a very special day for me. She carried me back to Palestine, making me sing our own songs. I appreciated the common feelings we shared.” Arwa

“Reem Kelani made everyone special and everyone sang without music in their own languages. We felt sad, happy and emotional. People who even weren’t Arabic sang in Arabic language. It was incredible event. She reminded people of their past and what they learned from their mothers when they were young.” Amal

“Reem asked me to sing in my language. I did’t have any idea how to sing but she pushed and encouraged me. And I sang and every body got happy. We were all from different countries and had different languages but we were singing all together.” Azeb

“Listening to Reem I felt so proud to live in such a diverse community. I wish I could do more to bring Burngreave people together to celebrate and share things like music, stories, customs and recipes.” Rashida Hassanali

Benefit workshop for Gaza at Peredur Centre, East Grinstead, February 2009.

“To be honest, I did not know what I was in for, but after spending 2 hours with Reem, I left a room as a different person! I had learned many new songs, got a little insight in the fun and beauty of the Middle East (instead of worrying news readings) but most of all, I had witnessed a beautiful lady full of life.

Reem made a total unknown group singing total unknown songs with such talent and gusto that I was grateful I spent my afternoon with her.” Suzanne

Sound Festival, North East Scotland

As part of Sound Festival, Reem conducted school and community workshops and gave a concert, November 2008. The Banchory Academy Parents' Newsletter of January 2009 wrote of the school workshop as follows:

"Reem Kelani is a Palestinian jazz singer who fuses the two musical styles of jazz and music from her native country into one. She came to Banchory to deliver a workshop in November to some pupils studying music. This was one of the most inspiring and creative sessions we have ever had.

Reem based a lot of her techniques on vocal styles but used a few ethnic instruments to create sounds and atmosphere. The pupils taking part were excited and found improvising jazz much more accessible than they ever thought possible through Reem's encouragement and vibrant personality. The pupils certainly gained a broader understanding and quality experience of several different kinds of music in both Palestinian and jazz. They also found the fusion of the two styles good fun and inspiring in their own music development."

You can also download the detailed evaluation of Reem's workshop at Banchory Academy

Sing Up

As part of the Music Manifesto's National Singing programme, Reem conducted a series of workshops on Arabic and Palestinian singing across Lincolnshire (organised by Serious in conjunction with Soundlincs), March 2008.

"A musician, raconteur and workshop leader of international standing, Kelani explores and performs Arabic music, with her rich knowledge and vibrant personality ensuring an engaging and rewarding vocal experience for everyone who participates". Jill O'Sullivan

Download her full review, published in Sounding Board magazine, 2008:
Reem gives an open workshop

Sheffield PSC workshop

Sample I

Visiting the Prophet's Shrine
(Ya Raayhin en-Nabi)
Traditional Palestinian
Source: In'aam al-Khadra, Palestinian woman originally from Safad, now resident in Damascus.
Arr. Reem Kelani

Sample II

The Fortune Teller
(Bassaarah Barraajeh)
Lyrics: Muhammad Younis al-Qadhi (1888-1969)
Music: Sayyid Darwish (1892-1923)
Arr. Reem Kelani

Listen to the above samples of Reem's workshop organised by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, October 2007.[Download 2 files: 1.1MB & 1MB mp3 file]

Heart of the World

Reem Kelani’s festival programme
Artist-in-residence 2007
Download a summary of the report prepared by Serious International Music Producers:
Heart of the World - an evaluation

Priceless at The Science Museum, London

Reem Kelani workshop, 2006
Led by Motiroti, an award winning arts organisation, Priceless was a participatory arts project involving women drawn from local immigrant communities.

Feedback on Reem's contribution:

"Reem was an exceptional facilitator on the day. She approached every individual with warmth and sensitivity: starting with the "Precious" names game, her inclusive approach and bilingual presentation, built trust within the group. Having introduced the priceless theme via the names, she then invited women to share the "priceless" objects they had brought with them.

As well as giving individual encouragement and support, Reem also showed great respect for the personal objects. Having established a strong rapport with the group, she then introduced a "recorded" song and used this as a stimulus to discuss deeply personal responses to the themes of loss. In the final section, Reem led the group in celebratory communal singing. Despite the many concerns raised about the issue of women singing, the majority of the group were very happy to join in.

This workshop went to the heart of the matter of the Priceless theme and encouraged women to share their personal and collective experience. The final work reflects these powerful and poignant stories within audio and visual portraits.

It was great to work with Reem on Priceless and we certainly hope to work with her again."

The Motiroti Team

Goldsmiths College, London

Reem Kelani’s guest lecture, 2005
Excerpt from Simone Kruger's "Experiencing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Learning in European Universities":
An account by Kruger of a lecture-workshop Reem gave at Goldsmiths College.

Creative Partnerships from the Arts Council of England Multi-Cultural World Music Project in Norfolk

The project involved professional artists, teachers and students in developing an integrated multi-cultural learning process across the fields of music, dance and language.

This included four world regions: Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean / Latin America.

Reem Kelani taught Arabic and Palestinian music, both sacred and secular. She also taught Palestinian folk dance, music appreciation and offered insights into the cultural principles of the Middle East.

For further details, contact Gary Newland, Project Director and Co-ordinator at:

Millfield School, Norwich, November 2003

Photographs courtesy of Gary Newland

Bawburgh School, Norfolk, 21 January 2004

Photographs courtesy of Creative Partnerships

See Reem in action with the children of Bawburgh School
(opens 8.18MB MOV movie file in a new browser window)

Sketches and artwork done by students from Bawburgh School, Norwich under the direction of Mrs. Ginny Stanners.

Photo courtesy of Creative Partnerships

TASSIS School, Athens, Greece, February 2000

Workshop on Arabic and Palestinian Music for children, and sketches kindly painted and provided by the class of music teacher, Ms. Coreen Morsink:

Reem with her trusted teaching assistant Elmo.

Reem playing her shabbabeh.

Reem playing her shabbabeh.

Reem talking to Elmo about Arabic music.

Reem teaching the children Palestinian folk dance dabkeh. The red fluffy mascot on the table is Elmo, the 2 1/2 year-old monster from Sesame Street.

Reem with her embroidered dress thob, playing her fipple-style flute shabbabeh.

Workshops at the Museum of Mankind, British Museum, 1990 - 92

Reem gave a series of workshops and performances alongside the British Museum's acclaimed exhibition.

Feedback on Reem's contribution:

"Your contribution to the evening was very valuable and helped to make it a success. Our guests flocked to hear you and I saw them sitting entranced during the performances. The inclusion of Palestinian music added a very pleasurable extra dimension to the experience of seeing the costumes." (Geoffrey House, Head of Public Services, Mar 1991)

" This is to thank you on behalf of the Education Service for the wonderful performance you gave on 27 October 1990 at the Museum of Mankind. I appreciate the thoroughness and effort that you put into preparing for it, and the quality of the performance itself.
It took a great deal of skill and flair to have kept the attention of so many people in such crowded conditions. I have had many people congratulate us on the event, which I believe was a great success. This was mainly due to you."
(Penny Bateman, Education Service, Oct 1990).

"I wanted to write to thank you for the wonderful music workshop you gave us on 28 April 1990. It was even better than I had hoped and I know the audience were completely engrossed. (Penny Bateman, Education Service,May 1990)".

Photograph courtesy of Shelagh Weir

Photograph courtesy of Jak Kilby