Community Building

 
The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.

Editorial: March 2020

03-03-2020

Institutional funders of El Sistema-inspired programs are typically limited to those dedicated to the arts and arts education. Foundations supporting social programs might think, “Why would we fund Sistema? That’s arts, which we don’t do.”

The 2020 El Sistema USA Symposium & Seminario

03-03-2020

Long before I joined The Ensemble newsletters editorial team a few months ago, I knew about El Sistema. I had read about it, listened to interviews, spoken with people inside the movement. But I hadn’t lived it—had barely seen it up close. I grew up playing jazz and orchestral pieces, but my professional background is as an editor, not a music educator. So I arrived in Durham for the 2020 El Sistema USA Symposium and Seminario expecting to listen to a language I barely understood.

Guest Perspective

03-03-2020

Two students who attended the El Sistema Seminario 2020, in Durham, NC last month, share their experiences at this super-gathering of student musicians from across North Carolina and the Southeast.

Harmonizing Across Many Languages

02-04-2020

At Sistema New Brunswick (NB) on Canada’s east coast, we’ve recently faced a unique challenge with broad implications: How best to integrate students of disparate languages into one program? What began in 2009 with one centre and 50 children has grown to over 1,200 children daily, in ten locations, all learning and playing orchestral music. Until September 2019, however, all of these students worked in their own districts, using their own languages.

YOLA National Festival Accepting Applications

01-07-2020

Applications are now open for the YOLA National Festival. The 2020 Festival will feature a Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, which now expands to woodwind, brass, and percussion musicians age 12-14. Application deadline is February 3, 2020. Click here for more information on audition requirements.

El Sistema Program Focuses on Immigrant Children

01-07-2020

This month marks the launch of the first El Sistema program in the country specifically dedicated to young people impacted by the immigration crisis at the southern border. The pilot program, in the border town of Tornillo, Texas, will be administered by Tocando, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra’s El Sistema -inspired program, and the Tornillo public school district. Children living with the acute stresses of displacement and immigration will participate in immersive music learning both during and after school. The pilot is funded by NAMM, the Leonard Bernstein Foundation, and private donations—including one from El Sistema Greece in solidarity for serving immigrant children worldwide. The U.S. El Sistema community can support this initiative by offering supplies, visits from experienced teaching artists, or by making contributions. Contact: alejandro@tocandomusicproject.org.

It (Still) Takes a Village

01-07-2020

What does it mean to teach with a village mentality? This is what we do every day at the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO). Families learning alongside one another is at the core of our program.

Editorial: January 2020

01-07-2020

At the start of every New Year, I look for inspiration, and this week I found it. “It (Still) Takes a Village,” Krystle Ford’s article also in this issue, reports on the work of the Indianapolis Symphony’s Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, which seeks to engage multiple generations of family members in its El Sistema work.

Mourning and Honoring a Student Leader

01-07-2020

The hours, days, and weeks following the death of Draylen Mason at the hands of a serial bomber in March of 2018 are difficult to look back upon. To lose any student is indescribably tragic, but losing Dray was a deep and personal anguish to all of us at Austin Soundwaves (ASW); he was, and continues to be, the heart and soul of our El Sistema-inspired program. In mourning, we learned how much we at ASW depend on our students, sometimes leaning on them just as much as (or more than) they lean on us. Their strength was remarkable during that time, and the energy that typically fuels teenage intransigence was instead diverted two-fold into leading music-making and creating remembrances for Dray. We grieved and didn’t simply move on. And though it would have been easy to focus on the perniciousness of the circumstances, we felt a grave and humbling responsibility to persist in recognizing and commemorating Draylen’s growing legacy.

Resources, December 2020

12-03-2019

If you are inspired by the lead article in this issue of The Ensemble and are interested in starting an El Sistema-inspired school, the Walton Family Foundation: Innovative Schools Program grant can help. They support educators who open all types of K-12 schools, particularly schools that look and feel truly different, achieve unprecedented outcomes, serve high-need students, and embrace successes and challenges to share with other schools.

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