Perspectives & Collective Action

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

Music for the Whole Community, One Backyard at a Time

01-05-2021

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.

Free Resources from Harvard’s Initiative for Learning and Teaching Conference

01-05-2021

Video recordings are still available from Harvard’s annual Initiative for Learning and Teaching Conference, covering the themes of equitable instruction and inclusive classrooms. Speakers cover an array of difficult questions ranging from facilitating “difficult or charged” conversations to “adaptive pedagogies” during challenging times. These concepts can easily be applied to music classrooms as programs seek to embed more equitable practices into their curricula and program designs. Also offered is a comprehensive list of resources for educators for reference during the presentations. View the recordings here.

The Power of Believing in Our Communities

12-02-2020

I am an uncommon editorialist. A 19-year-old violinist with no professional experience who’s just finished her first semester of college is not your typical guest writer, yet here I am penning the opening piece of this month’s newsletter. It is a curious predicament, but nothing that I am not already used to. Because of the nature of my musical training, I have become accustomed to occupying spaces in which I never truly felt I belonged.

Black Voices in Classical Spaces

12-01-2020

When I’m asked about my experiences in classical music, I simply share my story. In sharing it, I both reaffirm for myself why I continue this type of advocacy work and relay a lived example of why that work must be done.

The European Parliament Celebrates the Rights of the Child on November 20, in Partnership with Sistema Europe and the Alliance for Childhood European Network Group

11-04-2020

The Board of Sistema Europe invites its European Association and Network members to join in celebrating World Children’s Day on November 20. Sistema Europe has been invited by the Alliance for Childhood European Network Group to participate in an online celebration of the rights of the child, streaming live on Friday, November 20, from 16:10–17:00 CET. Colleagues in all countries are invited to attend the live stream, available at this Zoom link, and details will be published on www.sistemaeurope.org in due course.

Arts Education and Public Health: Building New Partnerships for a Post-COVID World

11-04-2020

One of El Sistema’s most striking comparative advantages is its ability to bridge gaps across communities. The replication of this model in multiple geographies has repeatedly demonstrated the uniting and transformative power of music and its value as a cornerstone for social integration and cohesion. The knock-on effects of COVID-19 could undermine El Sistema’s positive impact, presenting its advocates and practitioners with great challenges. However, the pandemic also presents opportunities to rethink the tenets of arts education and its use as a vehicle for social change, wellbeing, and inclusion. How can El Sistema survive the current global crisis and, more importantly, shed light on how to help rebuild broken and diminished societies? What can be done to ensure that the model adapts to and thrives in these new circumstances and becomes part of critical policy conversation on sustainable development—and, even more important, the realm of public health?

Ceding the Floor to Young People in Crisis Times

10-07-2020

Have you ever wondered what the future will be like? Will future leaders be more aware and empathetic? At El Sistema Greece (ESG), such questions never cease to concern us. How do we help our young people become the leaders they’re capable of being?

Shaping Curricula to Overcome Resource Scarcity

10-07-2020

The first time I smelled tear gas, it was a January morning around 10:00 a.m. I was sitting in the car alongside Franco Toro Contreras, the Music Director at Enrique Soro Music School in Quilicura, Chile. Franco picked me up every morning from Monday through Friday at the “Zona Cero” in Santiago, ten miles from the school. Against a backdrop of political and economic upheaval, we drove every morning through the smell of tear gas that had been deployed against protesters the previous night. Despite this troubled socio-political situation—and the fact that I was teaching summer classes—I noticed that attendance never wavered throughout my time at the school.

Ambassadors Updates, October 2020

10-07-2020

This month, the Ambassadors decided to take a break from reporting about their programs to share stories about the places they call home. Watch our five-minute compilation video of experiences and from around the world!

Continuing to Make Music, One Virtual Video at a Time

10-06-2020

Like programs all over the country, Make Music NOLA (MMN) was forced in March 2020 to quickly reinvent our programs for virtual learning. For our after-school students, we created weekly video lessons designed to take the place of their music theory, chamber ensemble, and fiddle classes. But these videos weren’t workable for the 100 students we reach through in-school programming—who attend several different charter schools, were doing remote learning through different systems, and, because of the abruptness of school closures, didn’t even have instruments at home.

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