Learning the Oud

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By: Michael Ziegltrum, Foster Undergraduate who studied abroad in Morocco. 

My time in Morocco taught me that some things are universal from culture to culture, from people to people.

I was walking through the twisting alleys and markets of a Moroccan town, when I came out in an open square. There I noticed a gentleman playing an Arabic musical instrument called an oud. Children were gathered around to hear him play traditional folk songs, which he sung to in accompaniment. After some time, he noticed me listening and beckoned me over.

12079088_10206284547807404_1071634220240941781_nAfter trying some Arabic and French, we settled on charades and music to communicate. For the next twenty minutes, one of the nicest people I have ever met taught me to play oud and accompanied me as I danced in the streets.

My friend didn’t have many teeth, he played the oud with a broken plastic spoon instead of a pick, and we couldn’t understand each other verbally because of the language barrier, but through our laughter and smiles we shared a powerful experience.

These universalities are important to remember these dark days when tension is steadily growing between geographic regions and peoples.12360059_1009184919104985_7715809813739663969_n