The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
Suggested Reading: We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom
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.
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.
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.
The Ensemble Editors
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.
Laura Hassler, Founder/Director of Musicians Without Borders, in conversation with Pablo Mendez Granadino, Founder/Director of Armonia Cuscatleca
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.
Patrick Kabanda, Undercover Artist and Well-Tempered Non-Economist; author of Creative Wealth of Nations
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.
Pedro Zenteno, Academic Director, Global Leaders Program
Editors’ Note: Have you and your colleagues ever allowed yourselves the luxury of imagining a community-building event or concert that’s much more ambitious than anything you’ve ever done before? If so, wouldn’t you have welcomed help from advisors who could bring broader perspectives from the fields of social science, education, and civic policy?
Tricia Tunstall, The Ensemble News, Advisory Editor
Does the phrase “international economic development” put you in mind of high-powered farm equipment and global trade policies? Think again—it may also refer to community-centered ensemble music education.
Eric Booth, Founder of the ITAC Collaborative, Contributing Editor at The Ensemble News
If I were King of Arts Education, I’d post an edict banning five words: amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, incredible.
Most music educators use those words a lot, and always with good intent. They want to encourage, celebrate, and motivate their students. The words express the enthusiasm and affection they feel for their students. The King supports all of that. The edict has its eye on the cost of that impulse when it results in hyperbolic acclaim. Cumulatively, the cost is high.
Libby O’Neil, Co-Founder and Executive Director, East Lake Expression Engine
East Lake Expression Engine (ELEE), which began in 2014, serves the East Lake neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We usually serve 75 to 100 kids each semester. Our program meets in a church that is conveniently located between the elementary and middle schools that serve our neighborhood. East Lake is wonderfully walkable; our staff members walk to the elementary school to pick up our students there, and our middle and high school students walk to us. Several of our staff members live in the neighborhood. This has long provided us with daily opportunities for casual, neighborly relationships with our students’ families. During 2020, that proximity has been invaluable.