Song-in-action Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Etiquette’

Music and Manners in Iraq

Posted by Katina on October 10, 2009 at 5:23 pm
Peace and Music Academy photo by BBC News - http:/home/katinara/public_html/

Peace and Music Academy photo by BBC News - http:/home/katinara/public_html/

Sometimes it seems like good manners are hard to come by. Recently in the US, we have seen a spate of public figures act a fool for no good reason. When watching the news, I would think to myself, didn’t anyone teach Kanye West good etiquette or sit Joe Wilson down with Roberts Rules of Order? While standards of conduct differ around the world, there seems to be a call to action around civility.

Today – October 10, 2009 – The Washington Post featured a project in Iraq that exemplifies Song-in-Action. Karim Wasfi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, saw a way to link music and good manners as the country rebuilds. He created the Peace and Music Academy to “study music, and more important, etiquette in a war-ravaged country that at least for now seems to have forgotten some of its manners.”*

In addition to music, the Academy covers manners & etiquette, including how to behave in different social situations, how to dress appropriately, and how to speak and carry oneself.

How important are good manners for the future of Iraq? Consider the words of these Iraqi citizens:

  • Hussein Hammoudeh: “Survival has had to come first . . . We forgot all about good manners. It wasn’t easy what we had to go through.”*
  • Azal Abdel-Naseer: “People here forgot how to treat each other after the war.”*

My favorite quote about the Academy comes from a blog by the TheCatalystPoet on

“In a country full of war and hate, there is a lighthouse of hope shining in the dark seas of uncertainty and unrest. As most change, the youth is bringing this about. Iraqi youth meet in the former embassy to learn about music and better themselves for peace.”

If you would like to learn more about the Peace and Music Academy (also referred to as the Academy of Peace through Art) check out these posts:, Washington Post, BBC and Christian Science Monitor.


“You have a choice in life. You can choose a weapon, a Kalashnikov, or you can try a musical instrument” Karim Wasfi in “Iraq’s Academy of Peace and Politeness.”

* All quotes in this blog, unless otherwise indicated, are from “After Years of War, a New Decorum” by Washington Post Foreign Service writer Nada Bakri, 10/10/2009.