Community Building

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

Youth-Led Research Explores Healthy Music Experiences


A new research project in Scotland is taking its cue from young people.

Beirut Chants Turns to El Sistema


It was not a promising time to be learning or teaching music in Lebanon. The Lebanese pound had depreciated by over 90%, making music lessons a luxury that few could afford. The National Conservatory of Music was mostly non-operational; schools had stopped music classes for lack of funding, and our country’s youth had no means to advance their musical education. In this challenging environment, Father Maatouk turned to the El Sistema model.

Action Research in the Western Balkans: Music and Social Reconciliation


Can bringing young people from different cultures together, through arts-related experiences, help to promote understanding, communication, and peace building?

This is a question on the minds of many people working in the global field of arts for social change. Over the past few years, my program, The House of Good Tones in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has partnered with two other Balkan programs (SO-DO, in Zagreb, Croatia, and the Music Art Project, in Belgrade, Serbia) on a research project designed to explore this question—a particularly important question in our part of the world.

(Re)Understanding Creativity


It’s easy for us, as teaching artists, to believe that all humans can access creativity. As the leader of ArtistYear and a practicing teaching artist myself, I understand the inclination. Any notion suggesting otherwise seems to challenge fundamental beliefs about our purpose—if there are people who can’t access creativity, then a place exists where teaching artistry is rendered ineffective. With this line of thinking, however, some nuance in the conversation is lost.

Want to Amplify Youth Voices? Give Them a Podcast Mic


In mainstream media, youth voices are widely absent, overlooked, or sensationalized. Youth on Record (YOR) aims to address this gap through our creative youth programming, including its Podcasting Production Internship. The program seeks to foster a supportive environment where young people explore creative storytelling and produce podcasts that amplify their voices and ideas.

Art Heals: Arts as a basic need in humanitarian settings


I have worked in the humanitarian sector for almost 15 years, in both Jordan and Lebanon, which have the highest refugees per capita in the world. In that time, I’ve learned thousands of life stories: of people who lost their homes, their possessions, and their established lives; of traumatized children and departed loved ones; of extreme health crises, both mental and physical. Yet, despite the hardships they reveal, these stories have always been more about bravery, strength, resilience, faith, and love.

Mutual Teaching, Mutual Learning at the Queen of Paradise Program


The Queen of Paradise program was originally the brainchild of Father Miguel de la Calle, a priest at the IVE (Instituto del Verbo Encarnado) mission in Papua New Guinea. Father Miguel, says Maestro Briceño, “had full confidence, from day one, in the power of music to positively change lives.”

The Role of Music in Language Revitalization in Juneau, Alaska


With fewer than 15 fluent Lingít speakers left in the world, there is an urgent initiative to revitalize and sustain this language of the native Alaskan people in this area. In 2021, JAMM began to partner with elders in the Lingít community, and also with a number of organizations—Sealaska Corporation, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, Douglas Indian Association, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and the University of Alaska Southeast—with the goal of integrating Lingít language, values, and culture into its established violin program.

Impactful Creative Youth Development


During my 20-plus years of being an arts advocate and leader of music for social change work, I have repeatedly returned to this question: “How can we best convey the scope and complexity of our field’s impactful work to funders and policymakers?” 

I’m confident this is a question many Ensemble readers also ask. Communicating the many benefits for young people, families, and communities that result from our work is more complex than a sound bite.

Opportunities and Resources from ESUSA


El Sistema USA is offering five scholarship spots to member organization employees to attend the Eastman Leadership Bootcamp on June 24–28.


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