News & Resources
New England Conservatory’s Center for Professional Development and Performing Arts Leadership offers a two-day online workshop “Understanding El Sistema” on June 5-6, 2020. It is designed for teaching artists, administrators, and those looking to enter the creative youth development sector; faculty will include Heath Marlow (Center Director), Erik Holmgren (Mass Cultural Council) and Rodrigo Guerrero (formerly from the Mass Cultural Council), Tina Lee Hadari (Music Haven founder), Laura Jekel (MYCincinnati founder), and other featured presenters.
Two articles by Dennie Palmer Wolf of WolfBrown, one of the nation’s most respected arts learning researchers, plant significant markers in the field. “Teaching Artists as Essential Workers: Respect, Collaboration, and Heft” is a rare researcher’s recognition of the importance and vulnerability of the teaching artist workforce. She sees teaching artists as first responders and champions of social equity, pointing out what they need to thrive and—in this crisis time—to survive.
Andrew Gesing, Program Coordinator, OrKidstra, Ottawa, Canada
“From pizza parties and Frisbee games to movie-watching and intense card matches, Fridays have been something to look even more forward to!” For Noah Linson-Hudson and almost 30 other OrKidstra students, Friday night Chamber Music and Youth Group has been the highlight of the week.
Adeyemi Oladiran, Founder and Executive Director, Music Enlightenment Project, Johannesburg, South Africa
The Music Enlightenment Project (MEP) is a community-based initiative in the heart of Braamfontein, Johannesburg, with the vision of a world where the lives of all children are transformed and enriched through music education.
Buffalo String Works in Buffalo, NY has worked with refugee students from Afghanistan, Burma, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and Syria. Though inspired by the international El Sistema model, the organization faced plenty of cultural hurdles in working to serve the diverse population. Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership has written a case study examining the early years of BSW as it worked to adapt to the needs of the community. Read more to learn how they strived for “cultural humility” and musical excellence simultaneously—these lessons in inclusion can be applied to all programs, no matter their makeup.
A sense of safety and connectedness is the foundation of successful student learning, but natural disasters can cause turmoil. The impacts of the current pandemic have upended all our familiar routines and rituals, so we must re-dedicate ourselves to these practices. New York City’s WHIN Music Community Charter School cleverly addresses the issues of familiarity and routine for their disrupted students in a video that welcomes them to their online classes.
El Sistema Colorado Staff and Teaching Artists
As words like pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing enter our daily vocabulary, El Sistema–inspired programs everywhere are asking the same question: How do we continue making music in the midst of COVID-19? El Sistema Colorado, like so many other organizations, went online.
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.”
Patrick Scafidi, Managing Editor, The Ensemble and The World Ensemble Newsletters
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.