Israel National News TV recently visited Mizmor, a unique school of music which has been halakhically, socially and culturally established for members of the religious sector.
“We felt that there is a need for people who want to study music in a professional manner but couldn’t find their place halakhically and socially in other schools,” explained the school's founder and principal, Itzik Weiss.
While visiting Mizmor one comes across famous Israeli singer Mika Karni, who is known as Morah Mika among the students. Karni teaches vocal pedagogy, composition, and interpretation for female singers. She does not focus on creating religious music, but rather on compositions that are personal, original, and influenced by a variety of musical genres.
“I always say that this is the Rimon [a famous Israeli school of music -ed.] of the religious sector, because it’s a school of modern music but everyone who studies here is from the religious sector,” said Karni who added: “What I show them are things that for example, my daughter who is 12 years old, has known from about the age of four – country music, jazz, or all types of singers that they didn’t hear about. But it’s wonderful. There is something about simplicity which money can’t buy. There is something about simplicity that goes really well with music, so I think it’s an opening for many good things that will happen at this school.”
Karni noted that the performance of the school's students is “in many ways much more focused than performances I’ve seen in secular teenagers, because singing is very similar to praying. It’s a connection between intelligence and emotion, which they are experienced with because of something else, but this is the experience which is required.”
The fact that Karni works with female singers in a separate, women-only group, can appear limiting, but in fact allows for many unique and special things in the composing process.
“We reach a much higher level of openness,” said Karni. “There’s also a kind of sisterhood and a great atmosphere. I think there’s something soothing both in the knowledge that it’s girls only and in the knowledge for them that they’re in the same surroundings in which they grew up. There’s something very good about this.”
Uniquely, the school offers several courses of study but there are no divisions according to instruments. The program's main idea is to study the whole ensemble rather than improving one’s skills on a particular instrument.
“There’s no difference between a pianist, a drummer, and a saxophone player in terms of the subjects that are taught here,” explained Weiss. “At the end of the day they study music so that they, using their instrument, can advance and create music and be a part of the music scene.”