Ali brings dreams of teaching in Iraqi homeland to SIUE

Ali Rebin, violin performance major, chose SIUE to prepare him in his dreams to nurture students in his homeland of Iraq. Photo courtesy of Nelson Kreply

Rebin Ali, sophomore violin performance major, dreams to bring his musical knowledge gained at SIUE back to his country Kurdistan of Iraq to “nurture students…and try to produce highly trained musicians.” According to Ali, music education teachers with classical training is lacking there.

“I want to do something beneficial for my country,” Ali said.

The SIUE orchestra concertmaster said he chose to attend SIUE because it has a Suzuki pedagogy program- a string teaching method – he can use to teach in his homeland.

He plans to earn his master’s in music education after he graduates then start a small private school in Kurdistan of Iraq.

He said he needs to be prepared in these plans when he returns to teach. He will be reaching out helping students in Iraq, unlike now receiving help and guidance as a student.

Violin professor Lenora Anop said she thinks Ali’s pursuits are laudable.

“In time Rebin will develop into a first-rate teacher,” Anop said.

Nine years ago, he started on the violin. At 12 years old, he saw the instrument performed live for the first time and said he found it “incredible” and wanted to play.

“I see it as one of the best inventions in human history,” Ali said.

One year later, he started and he taught himself how to play Mid-Eastern music on violin.

At the age of 18 he started taking lessons when he went to the College of Fine Arts in Erbil, Kurdistan.

Then, he attended a workshop held by American Voices, a non-profit cultural diplomacy organization that has held workshops in Kurdistan since 2008. The organization has been offering scholarships for two students to travel to St. Louis and study with local violinist Marc Thayer. Ali was invited in 2010.

Ali said it was difficult to catch up once coming to the United States because of being self-taught for many years.

“At age 19 with Marc we were able to do a lot. I was in a huge ocean of learning and it was frustrating,” Ali said, “but I was fortunate to at least determine my path.”

According to Anop, Ali was brought to her attention through Thayer and she was impressed.

“Rebin is a hard worker and a methodical student,” Anop said.

Concerned about the “political mess between the U.S. and Iraq,” Ali said he is relieved that people treat him well at the university.

“I’ve never felt I’ve ever been treated different because of my background…,” Ali said. “It’s quite a relief to have. People just treat me normally.”

Ali said he also likes the music department and how supportive the professors are.

“I feel I get individual attention from professors and you can’t get that everywhere,” Ali said.


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