Playing an instrument, especially in an orchestra, requires talent, skill and hard work.
But the musicians in this particular orchestra from the Egyptian capital of Cairo have to contend with an extra challenge as every single member is blind.
El Nour Wal Amal Association offers free education, literacy programs and vocational training to over 300 blind women and girls and manages the female orchestra for the blind girls.
“El Nour Wal Amal Light and Hope Association was founded in 1954 as the first centre in the Middle East for the education, vocational training care and integration into society for the blind girls and women,” vice President Aman Fikry said.
The members of Cairo’s Egyptian Blind Girls Chamber Orchestra learn the songs they perform by reading the sheet music in Braille.
Because it’s physically impossible to read Braille and play an instrument simultaneously, the musicians must memorize every note of each song they perform.
Shaimaa Yehia, one of the members of the orchestra explains the procedure of learning a piece while being visually impaired.
“First we learn how to read the notes in Braille, and we learn each symbol, each musical symbol in Braille. Then we learn how to read the note, then we memorise every note depending on its difficulty we memorise fast or slow.”
Another challenge the musicians faced was mastering the tempo and when to start because they cannot see the conductor who manages the orchestra.
“They have to memorize everything and then they do not have a maestro. The maestro only tells them to start,” Fikry said.
The women are proud of their achievements and strive to improve with every performance.
“Abroad we represent Egypt and we represent the Arab world, so we are representatives of our country,” Marwa Solieman, a violinist said.
The Association’s vice president Aman Fikry hopes the orchestra’s local success echoes the international recognition received.
The orchestra has already performed on five continents and in 24 countries.