Local drummer on importance of music, fighting stereotypes

(Photo: Handout)
AMMAN — Despite stereotypes and pushback from friends, local drummer Hala Maimoun has battled to pursue her interest in a field dominated by men.
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“My main message is to support and encourage any female that wants to do music, especially because the music scene in Jordan is dominated by men,” Maimoun said in an interview with Jordan News.

The 26-year-old musician began practicing music at a young age. “My musical journey began when I was in school, I used to take classes and courses,” she said.

The young artist pursued her passion for music while studying marketing at the American University of Madaba.

“Joining Drum Jam (a percussion group) in 2014 when I was in university gave me a huge push; they supported me a lot, and it’s still ongoing,” she noted.
Maimoun said that when she first started, her social circle did not approve of her choice of instrument.

“People used to ask me, ‘why would you want to become a drummer? You are a female,’” she said. “Even my family, in the beginning, didn’t like what I am doing, but when they saw that other females are playing drums as well, they became supporters.”

Stereotypes about instruments are not limited to Jordan. A 2012 study found that grade school students view instruments as highly gendered — and drums are strongly associated with boys. This association has consequences for girls, who are less likely to choose to play drums.

Maimoun eventually found community in a group of female artists.

“In 2019 I joined Jordanian Female Artist collective (JFAC). It is an initiative all about female artistry” that includes artists “from different backgrounds, with a variety of interests,” she said.

Maimoun described her passion for passing on her musical knowledge through teaching.

“At the moment I teach music,” she said. She explained that by teaching music, she is helping another individual to achieve his or her dreams. She added that “It is very important to teach music for children in school, so there will be more awareness for people to know what music is.”

As a teacher, Maimoun thinks that parents should give their children the freedom of choice when it comes to their children’s talent and passion.

“I advise parents, if their child is interested in music, to support their talent. Also, I advise parents not to pressure their child to play a specific instrument. Rather, let them choose whatever instrument they want to play,” the drummer said.

The current pandemic has affected Maimoun’s musical projects, but she did not allow it to stop her.

“At the moment, because of the pandemic, it is hard to do any kind of projects, but we are working on various things,” she said. “In 2020 we were part of the Amman Jazz Festival; it was an amazing thing that we did.”

Maimoun advises artists in Jordan to separate money making from their artistic practice because it is not always possible to make a sustainable profit from art.

“Unfortunately, I can’t rely on the profit I make from my music. I advise people who want to be an artist to have something on the side to help you be financially stable because the music industry isn’t stable yet in Jordan,” she said.

Maimoun is inspired by the success of other Jordanian artists, particularly Issam Al-Najar, whose song “Hadal Ahebek” has achieved international popularity.

“Issam Al-Najar’s song will make a huge difference in the music seen in Jordan especially because his song went viral on TikTok, which created a kick start for the music seen in Jordan,” the drummer said. “I would be proud if we can reach a level where Jordanian music is known globally.”

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