About Souhail as a teacher
I have been a student of music my entire life, beginning with recorder at the age
of two, then violin, trumpet, piano, and percussion. My last two years of high school
I studied at Interlochen Arts Academy, the premier boarding school for high school
musicians. A little over a year ago I began playing doumbek with the University
of California Santa Barbara’s Middle Eastern Ensemble. I had the pleasure
of meeting and studying with Souhail Kaspar within the first few weeks of playing
with the Ensemble. Since then, I have attended several workshops and the Middle
Eastern Music and Dance Camp where Souhail teaches. In all of the years I have studied
music, I have never seen such a combination of musicianship, stage presence and
overall professionalism as with Mr. Kaspar.
As a teacher, Souhail communicates the importance
of technique, musicality, stage presence, listening and professionalism. From the
beginning, he pays close attention to where drummers place their hands, how they
sit, where they hold and strike the drum. Even advanced drummers who have played
for ten years do not escape Souhail’s watchful eye when it comes to technique.
He is careful to point out the
importance of technique at all levels.
Of course, ultimately, Souhail trains drummers to play with dancers and other musicians.
Consequently, students learn to listen and watch so that their playing appropriately
matches the accompanying music and dance. Students are constantly reminded to pay
attention to dynamics and when it is appropriate to play more complex / simple rhythms.
Importantly, Souhail teaches – particularly through performance and modeling
– stage presence and professionalism. Clearly, Souhail has a deep respect
for other performers and he communicates this as soon as he walks on stage. His
eye contact, smile, humor, and seemingly boundless energy is contagious, drawing
the audience into the music. I have seen Souhail teach for ten hours in one day,
and finish with eight hours of performance. Yet, there was not a single moment in
the day when he apparently lost concentration or connection with his audience and
fellow performers. This kind of professionalism can only come from a deep love for
his craft, which filters down to those of us lucky enough to watch him perform and
study with him.
But perhaps most importantly, Souhail is kind and humorous. Lessons with him invariably
include humor. For those that are new to drumming, or music in general, Souhail’s
humor creates a sense of ease and familiarity that lowers one’s anxiety and
sets the stage for relaxed, concentrated learning. As such, Souhail’s personality
is a very important part of his teaching successes. It is rare that world-class
musicians also possess such a vibrant sense of humor, a deep commitment to teaching,
and a welcoming attitude that keeps audiences and students coming back for years
Will McClintock, Ph.D.
Marine Science Institute
University of California
BACK TO TOP