The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
In an open letter to its community, Price Hill Will/MYCincinnati recognizes that “everything about an organization’s practices, beliefs, culture, structure, and programs either contributes to racial equity or opposes it.” They present a detailed overview of their equity statements, programs and initiatives, hiring and compensation practices, trainings, fundraising, and more, inviting feedback. Also, their annual Price Hill Creative Community Festival (July 20–25) has announced the festival’s transition to online along with the three Artists-in-Residence. Learn more here.
The Lewis Prize for Music announced the recipients of its $1.25 million COVID-19 Community Response Fund, awarded to 32 Creative Youth Development (CYD) organizations across the U.S. (including three El Sistema organizations) that have adapted and responded to serve the needs of young people and their families during the pandemic. One-third of recipients have budgets of less than $100,000 per year; two-thirds are led by people of color. Read an article about the Fund in the July World Ensemble.
YOLA National at Home, this year’s online version of the annual YOLA National Festival and Symposium, offers keynotes (Thomas Wilkins and Gustavo Dudamel), community and artist conversations, teaching tools, and project-based learning opportunities for youth and adults. Students, educators, and artists are invited into these interactive experiences, held 3–4 times per week over Zoom and YouTube Live from July 10–31. Register for updates here. YOLA is also partnering with Project 440 to provide musicians of the YOLA National Festival Orchestras with a six-week virtual program on using art as a vehicle for positive change and how to prepare for college or conservatory.
As an educator, I am a role model for young people. In the wake of the social unrest following the death of George Floyd, my students made it clear: not only did they want me to amplify their voices, but they implored me to amplify my own as well. Below is an abridged version of an open letter I wrote them immediately following our discussion. The complete letter can be found at project440.org.
Dalouge Smith, CEO of The Lewis Prize for Music
The Lewis Prize for Music, a philanthropic foundation established in the United States in 2018, is guided by the mission of partnering with leaders who create positive change by investing in young people through music. We were only two months past announcing our inaugural awards when the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders took effect. At the time, we were finalizing our internal evaluation and identifying lessons learned. We were excited to nearly double the time frame of our process by opening the 2021 Accelerator Award letter of interest in late spring.
Could your Sistema program partner with older people? Lifetime Arts (the nation’s leading organization in training educators to work with aging populations) offers Creative Aging 101, a training mini-course that details how best to engage older adults (55+) in “participatory, professionally run arts programs with a focus on social engagement and skills mastery.” Like many of their resources, the mini-course is free during the pandemic; learn more here.
Dennie Palmer Wolf, Researcher & Writer, WolfBrown, Cambridge, MA
On my COVID-era daily hike, I found myself behind a woman on her cell phone. At first, I resented the noise; then I began to listen. “Hello, this is Ms. F., Leila’s violin teacher. How are you?…How is she? Does she know she has messages from her music class? We are doing song-writing, and she would be so good at it…Yes, I’d love to tell her.” I realized I was hearing a new kind of musical alliance between teachers, students, and families.
Akhail Gopal and Ziyad Marcus, students in the MAT Program of Longy School of Music of Bard College
As students in Longy School of Music’s El Sistema-inspired Masters of Arts in Teaching program, we have recently partnered with the Amani Project, a global nonprofit that uses music to serve youth in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Colombia, India, and many more countries around the world. We have found this collaboration to be a crucial reminder of perhaps the most important part of the El Sistema philosophy: social change. While technical excellence is prioritized in standard music pedagogy, El Sistema pushes us to bring musical competency and social justice into convergence. However, despite being in an El Sistema-inspired program, as music teachers we sometimes lose sight of ideals beyond music for music’s sake.
Have you ever been in collegial dialogue with colleagues in Europe? Join two hour-long discussions with El Sistema Sweden and Sistema Europe members in May. The first discussion is on Wednesday, May 6, 17:00 CEST/1:00pm EDT, focusing on Non-Digital Teaching Tools. What activities can we organize to warm up, to create energy, and to manage larger groups? The second discussion is on Wednesday May 20, 17:00 CEST/1:00pm EDT. The topic: Developing Groups and Repertoire. How can we best advance learning in groups, and what repertoire fits best? The discussions will be recorded and later made available on FB/IG. Register by email; you will receive a Zoom link.
The Sphinx Competition is a national competition offering young Black and Latinx classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges, and to perform with and receive mentorship from established professional musicians. The repertoire requirements for the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition have been announced and applications have opened online.