Opinion

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

In Times of Conflict, Music Is Its Own Language

10-06-2021

Music is a shared language—and, as we all know, children learn languages easily. Their innate linguistic capabilities enable them, with all their different rhythms and tonalities, to learn simply by listening, absorbing, and imitating. Most important, they don’t make judgments about which language is more important than another.

Playlist: 2021 Favorites from the World Ensemble Ambassadors

10-06-2021

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The Importance of Contextualized and Conflict-Sensitive Sistema Programs

07-07-2021

As I listened to the episode, I had a sudden crisis of conscience: had I done the same thing in starting a Sistema-inspired classical music program within a Boston public school? Given the principal’s enthusiasm, and the fact that at the time there was no music or visual arts programming, I eagerly launched the program without questioning what was best for the community. Was the money we were raising for the orchestra program being put to its best use at this school?

Staying Engaged with Guest Artists

07-06-2021

Raised hands, great questions, a new level of ensemble music-making, palpable excitement from our students—we’ve all experienced those unforgettable moments when our students are engaged and eager to do more after interacting with a guest artist or ensemble. A bonus for everyone, these encounters offer students a change of pace—a brief, beautiful moment of inspiration. When they’re over, we usually slip back into our regular routines, and those incredible moments become fleeting memories. But what if we could turn them into something more? What if those moments could have a lasting impact on our students’ ongoing learning?

Suggested Reading: We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

06-01-2021

If you attended YOLA’s National Symposium in 2019, you won’t forget Dr. Bettina Love’s stirring keynote. Love is the Founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network; her new book, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, delves into the ways in which the American education system actually makes profits on the suffering of children of color.

A Radical Notion: Teaching Artists as Essential Workers

06-01-2021

Teaching artists have been quiet, often unsung, heroes of this pandemic. This Arts Education Policy Review piece by three leaders in Seattle argues for the recognition of teaching artists as essential workers. The article, “Re-imagining personal and organizational polices as sources of radical change: perspectives from a teaching artist, organization, and city,” includes an interesting history of teaching artistry, from Paleolithic caves to Grandmaster Flash.

Six Podcasts on Classical Music

05-19-2021

One unexpected outgrowth of the pandemic has been an increase in podcasts that focus on classical music. Even established ones have evolved; Aria Code, hosted by the cross-genre luminary Rhiannon Giddens, has found new depths of poetry and resonance.

Orchestras of the Venezuelan Diaspora

05-05-2021

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 5.4 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide—one of the largest displacement crises in the world. Many among these are former students, teachers, and leaders of El Sistema, Venezuela’s national youth orchestra program, founded by Maestro José Antonio Abreu in 1975; this growing diaspora has been shaping and enriching cultures in host countries. Displaced Venezuelans continue to make beautiful music, and not just as teachers and solo performers. Across the world, Venezuelan-founded orchestras continue to pop up, no less technically brilliant than those that made El Sistema a globally adapted model. One article in the magazine Guataca, which promotes Venezuelan music and musical initiatives around the world, reminds us of that continuing legacy.

Safe Passage through Music for the Children of Armonia Cuscatleca, El Salvador

03-03-2021

Looking back, Pablo is sure it was the all-night music-making that inspired him.

Born in war-time El Salvador, Pablo Mendez Granadino grew up in Los Angeles after his parents had fled from their village, San Pedro Perulapán. There had been musicians in his family for generations; he studied violin as a child and taught for five years at L.A.’s Harmony Project, an El Sistema–based music project for children from underserved communities. Chances to return to El Salvador to see his extended family were few and far between; when he went back to San Pedro in June 2015, it had been 15 years since his last visit. He was 30 years old.

Arts Education and Human Capability

03-03-2021

Knowledge, as widely understood, is the engine of modern economic progress. In that sense, education, as part of knowledge, is a driver of economic development. That’s why the idea of “human capital” augmentation is preached so widely in development discourse.

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