Hisham El-Shemaly is a music teacher among many others at the Rock ‘n Bach School. He was one of the judges in GBOB 2011’s heat #7. The following is an interview concerning the heat itself as well as Hisham’s musical work.
Being a judge at GBOB 2011’s heat #7, what did you expect from the bands? What’s essential to be a commercially successful band?
Actually you never know what to expect because there are lots of hidden talents, now after all 7 heats and after what we heard from all bands, I can know what to expect in the final. As for what is essential to be a commercially successful band, I can’t give you an answer because I hate the word commercial. When it comes to music and to musician’s world, it is essential to play what you feel, then the music will come from the heart. If you start thinking how to make more money the music will start to have limits and the musician himself will start growing borders for his ideas. Let us give the new generation the chance to express their own ideas even if they don’t sell, and one day a new style or genre will be discovered.
How did you find the bands’ performances? What should they work on to develop their performance and writing skills?
I will tell you some of the things that if I would have took into considerations if it was my band. First comes tuning, some bands went on stage and didn’t tune their instruments, second a singer is a lead and before starting singing he should know how to sing and he has to sing in tune, so I propose to singers to take it more seriously and learn solfegio, vocalism and take some singing lessons with a professional teacher. They should learn how to breathe and how to properly use their voice or else they will lose it in couple of years. Third I propose more solos for guitar soloists because two guitars in a band means one should solo well, and there weren’t any good solos in this heat. What is a solo? it’s an unwritten melody and what is melody but “a written solo”, so to prove your skills as guitarists you need to play a solo for a minimum of one minute and be 100% unprepared. That will show how much you are creative, because in the end it’s a battle. I think they already did well but these bands are all young and still have time to develop their skills. I wish them all the best and I congratulate them for all their efforts. All bands were good but some were better than others, more experienced and more tight. Every band has different things to work on if they are looking to win the finals and move to a higher level.
Are you currently performing with a band? Tell us about the band’s activity and other musical projects that you’re working on.
Yes I am performing with a band, it’s a small band with piano, drums, bass, guitar and vocal. They are all teachers at Rock ‘n Bach school. We perform at private events, weddings and sometimes at piano bars and pubs. Our repertoire varies between jazz, blues, funk, latino, bossa (we play only covers). As for other musical projects, I am working on different projects and one of them is my own solo album, which won’t be finished soon but I am sure you will hear about it later.
Explain to us what does Rock ‘n Bach school teach? Who are the teachers and how do we register?
As for Rock ‘n Bach, we are a registered music school that teaches mostly all kind of instruments from classical to rock. We have two programs: one is classical where students learn the basics of music and prepare for Trinity Music college London exams. There are also Rock, Blues, Jazz Programs that teaches modern music and students prepare for Rockschool London exams; we are Rockschool’s exam center in Lebanon. These two programs are well organized that all our students can read, write and sing notes. Tabs are introduced for more advanced students.
Our teachers are all qualified and have master degrees in musical pedagogy and musicology which is very important, because we believe you can be a good performer but a bad teacher, not the other way around. So teaching is also an art that needs lots of study. I finished my degree in music pedagogy in Ukraine before I start teaching. Rock ‘n Bach teachers are obliged to perform in all Rock ‘n Bach events and this will keep the teacher on stage so he can also share his experience with his students. We do different events every year like “Rock ‘n Donation”: it’s a fund raising concert, performed by all students and teachers”(check www.rocknbach.net/rockndonation). We also had the “Rockwood music and art summer camp”, a camp for all musicians to learn and express themselves (check www.rocknbach.net/rockwood).