North America

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

Very Young Composers, Around the World

10-20-2017

Can the core musical endeavors of El Sistema be enhanced by introducing the art of music composition?  At the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC), we believe the answer is yes.  We feel that all music education is furthered by empowering students to be creative to the point of composing for ensembles, bands and the orchestra itself.  There are, of course, many ways of introducing children to their innate creativity, and enabling them to hear their musical thoughts performed by themselves, their peers, even by professional musicians. The VYC, a program founded in 1995, has been working closely with El Sistema for seven years, primarily in Caracas, VZ.  We have also worked with children in countries around the world.

The Power of Many: Collaborative Research Findings

10-01-2017

The news is in! Three years, twelve sites, 764 3rd- to 5th-graders, a research team from WolfBrown and the Longy School of Music, and hours of collaboration have yielded robust findings – and big questions – for the field of El Sistema-inspired teaching and learning: Here are some of the most significant findings.

Radical Musical Reciprocity

10-01-2017

The theater director Peter Sellars spoke four years ago at the L.A. Phil and Barbican-sponsored “Future Play: Music Systems in the 21st Century.” He called for the democratizing of classical music and music education. “I have to ask the classical music world to respect reciprocity, which is the basis of all human interaction. And not have this one-way flow of ‘all these kids will learn to play Beethoven.’…We have to move into radical structures of reciprocity.”

From the Editor

10-01-2017

The first nationwide research about El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States: are we paying enough attention to this?

We should be paying a lot of attention. Rigorous independent research at 12 sites across the country, with many hundreds of students involved – this is a big deal. It gives us a new way to understand and reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we need to go from here. The researchers themselves are ideal partners; WolfBrown is respected for its meticulous standards and commitment to the arts, and the Longy School of Music is a leader among conservatories in its tenacious emphasis on community-based arts teaching and learning.

From the Editor

09-01-2017

In my column last month, I wrote about the 101 young musicians at the iconic modernist Walt Disney Concert Hall in July – the first national Sistema orchestra in the U.S., the Take a Stand Festival Orchestra in Los Angeles. It was a milestone not only for those young musicians but also for the whole U.S. El Sistema-inspired movement.

Colourstrings and Sistema

09-01-2017

In June we traveled to Helsinki, Finland, to work on our teacher certification in the Colourstrings method. Colourstrings is a method based in Kodaly philosophy that was founded by the Hungarian brothers Géza and Csaba Szilvay in 1972, just three years before Maestro Abreu founded El Sistema in Venezuela. The method uses colors for each string, and also picture symbols. It focuses on both the individual and the ensemble, offering individual and group lessons, orchestra, choir, theory, and kinder-music. Students receive music learning every weekday, and advance gradually through a series of skill levels, insuring their healthy development.

Framing “Classical” Music in Racial Equity Contexts

09-01-2017

Calling orchestral or so-called classical music “white music” isn’t a framing that fits comfortably around many folks’ practice. This is particularly true for ALAANA (African, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, Native American) practitioners or those who teach ALAANA students. I get that on a personal level.

Being a Servant and an Artist

08-01-2017

The National Take a Stand Festival has ended, and 101 students are returning home to over 25 states, each with an intimate and personal experience. Here is the experience of just one of those 101.

National Take a Stand Festival & Symposium

08-01-2017

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FROM THE EDITOR

08-01-2017

On Saturday night, July 22, there were 101 young musicians on the stage of the Walt Disney Concert Hall: the first-ever national Sistema orchestra of the United States.

One hundred and one – there is something intensely human about that number. It suggests that the organizers set out to recruit a hundred student musicians – but then there was that one more vivid, luminous youngster they couldn’t leave out.

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