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.

Editorial: Pivoting in Response to Community Need

06-01-2020

COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges all over the world. As nonprofit leaders, we must decide how to continue having a meaningful impact while bolstering our organizations to last through COVID-19 and beyond.

Transatlantic Professional Development Dialogues

05-05-2020

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.

Two New Articles from Dennie Palmer Wolf

05-05-2020

Two articles by Dennie Palmer Wolf of WolfBrown, one of the nation’s most respected arts learning researchers, plant significant markers in the field. “Teaching Artists as Essential Workers: Respect, Collaboration, and Heft” is a rare researcher’s recognition of the importance and vulnerability of the teaching artist workforce. She sees teaching artists as first responders and champions of social equity, pointing out what they need to thrive and—in this crisis time—to survive.

Embracing the Unexpected

05-05-2020

It’s built into our DNA to think, plan, and act towards the future. Your brain is wired to do amazing things, right at this moment.

Online Learning In Denver Deepens Relationships

04-07-2020

As words like pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing enter our daily vocabulary, El Sistema–inspired programs everywhere are asking the same question: How do we continue making music in the midst of COVID-19? El Sistema Colorado, like so many other organizations, went online.

Editorial: April 2020

04-07-2020

For the past year, I have enjoyed meeting with a group of educators and administrators from the El Sistema USA community who seek to collectively define “equity.” Our goal is to educate ourselves about big ideas—systemic access barriers, intersectionality and identity, culturally responsive teaching—and articulate what they mean for us. At the core of these conversations is the idea that El Sistema–inspired programs are uniquely positioned to work toward equity. Maestro Abreu paved the way with his vision of universal access and social change through music education; today, in our North American context, the El Sistema-inspired field must engage with the dynamics of race, class, gender, ability, language, and social factors. If we seek to deeply know and empower our students, these conversations are crucial.

U.S. Sistema Programs Respond to Pandemic

04-02-2020

In the U.S., Sistema programs shut down in early March—first one, then a few, and within a week, all of them. As safety issues were clear, there was little energy wasted on resisting the hard choice. All the predictable, wonderful energy that had been building toward culminating projects and special fundraising events was immediately redistributed into three basic concerns: money questions (Can we keep paying staff? Can we raise the money we need in other ways?), event questions (How do we provide a sense of celebration and culmination for the year’s work?), and student learning questions (How do we keep the learning going online?).

Rediscovering Our Passion and Purpose during the Coronavirus Pandemic

04-02-2020

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  One of the best known, most philosophical yet universally accessible passages of the Bible (Ecclesiastes, 3:1) sets a consoling frame. Yet who knows for how many seasons the COVID-19 turmoil will last as an unprecedented challenge? So many questions: Why now? Why was it not possible to avoid, or at least predict, and prepare? Why so many different approaches to one identified enemy? Did any of us expect to see such a catastrophic phenomenon over our lifetimes?

Nurturing the Artistry in Leadership: Wind Conductor Development In Chile

04-02-2020

This was my initial mindset in December of 2019, when I received news that I was to lead a Wind Conductor Intensive in Santiago as part of my work with the Global Leaders Program. I was delighted to learn that one of my most important early mentors, Maestro Carl Hammond, would also be in Santiago working with me as a co-clinician on this course.

Music Was Made in the Jungle

03-04-2020

In a little jungle-engulfed town in the Bolivian Amazon sits a music program that has changed the region’s social, cultural, and artistic complexion: The Music School of San Ignacio de Moxos. The school began without much forethought. Seeing it as an opportunity to pass along the musical legacy of Jesuit missions, a nun of the order of the Ursulines of Jesus opened the school in 1996 to encourage musical learning among her teenagers. Despite its modest aspirations, the school grew into something more impactful than she ever could have expected.

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