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

The Symposium: A Reflection

03-01-2019

When I landed in Detroit, Michigan on January 29th for the El Sistema USA Symposium, warnings about the extreme winter temperatures were all over the radio, but I needed to find out on my own. So I took a short walk in my Atlanta “winter clothes”: sneakers, a small coat, no gloves. At that moment, I realized that the next time I went outside in Detroit would be to catch the plane back to Atlanta!

The El Sistema USA National Symposium

03-01-2019

It was clear that the 2019 El Sistema USA National Symposium was going to be special when, in the midst of a historic cold spell, over 200 attendees representing 80 different El Sistema-inspired organizations braved sub-zero temperatures to attend. Attendees arrived early for the welcome and filled the ballroom with the type of vibrant energy surrounding a convening of friends for their annual trip. Christine Taylor Conda, the ESUSA board chair, chose to forgo the typical welcome and, instead, immediately had the entire room singing a three-part song to meet and welcome one another, setting a tone of collaboration and camaraderie for the symposium.

Improvising with Visionary Young People

02-01-2019

I co-founded the Visionary Youth Orchestra (VYO) along with Jessica Jones in New York in 2010. The idea of our project was to provide a workshop/ensemble of young musicians to explore structured free improvisation in a large ensemble setting. The results have been remarkable – this innovative group has garnered great praise in its eight years, and recently had the honor of performing at the Cecil Taylor memorial in NYC.

Collective Composition

02-01-2019

At BRAVO Youth Orchestras, there are ongoing conversations about the impact of introducing collective composition–composing together as a group–often focusing on how it impacts the staff, our students, and our community, and on what it means to facilitate and support a collective musical voice. There’s an active effort to establish equitable practices that reinforce a supportive environment for BRAVO students during creative projects. BRAVO’s central goal is student empowerment to discover what it is they want to say through their music.

The Greater Sistema Vision

01-01-2019

In 2015, the Mass Cultural Council created the SerHacer program, a granting opportunity focused on intensive, ensemble-based music programs that use music as a vehicle for youth development and social change. Inspired by the work of El Sistema, the program supports a wide variety of in-school and community organizations, to expand access to social and artistic music-making opportunities.

From the Editor, January 2019

01-01-2019

In the time-honored tradition of pausing on the cusp of a new year to look both forward and back, I’ve been reflecting this week on two questions. How has our Sistema-inspired movement made progress, and what areas are most in need of improvement? Here are my thoughts.

Teaching the Future

01-01-2019

The majority of the American music teaching workforce is white. This would not be an issue if it matched U.S. school demographics. However, in city schools where the general population is majority students of color, the music student population is considerably more white. While there are multiple factors contributing to this, it may be best understood as a lack of access to quality music education that provides opportunities for students of color to choose careers in music teaching. The fact that students of color do not see music teachers who look like them is a form of social injustice.

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