Perspectives & Collective Action
News & Resources
An audiovisual project called “Sing in Solidarity with Myanmar Citizens,” launched in response to the military coup initiated in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, has attracted thousands of singing supporters across the world. The organizers, who include musicians and dancers from the inclusive music education program Gitameit Music Institute (read our 2020 feature on them here), have invited the international community to video-record themselves singing a short new song produced by the Myanmar Civil Disobedience Movement/Campaign.
This special issue of the Arts Education Policy Review brings together perspectives from community-based arts organizations around the world to highlight and reflect upon the ways in which they and the youth they serve responded to the COVID-19 pandemic between March and September of 2020.
Hannah Christensen, student, Sistema Utah; World Ensemble Ambassador
Last month, I was fortunate enough to participate in El Sistema USA’s Symposium and Seminario, which took place online. The week was full of informative and surprising sessions. Before the week began, I recorded two videos that were later used in the Symposium itself. The first was a video of me discussing how we mentor in my program, Sistema Utah, which was later combined with submissions from other World Ensemble Ambassadors. In the other, I performed “What We Will Be” by Danielle Williams on my violin. I couldn’t wait to hear how it sounded when joined with videos that other participating students had sent in.
Former gymnast Amanda Ewing left the corporate world after 16 years, taking her first steps toward a more fulfilling career and life.
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.
Ciera Henderson, Alumni Intern, Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project
During the fall of 2020, I participated in the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project’s (ChiMOP) new Alumni Internship Program (CAIP). CAIP was designed to offer recent ChiMOP graduates hands-on leadership experience during program hours as well as introductory-level job experience behind the scenes—helping staff with everything from lesson planning to administrative tasks. I signed up to gain experience, having never done anything like it before (unless you count trying to teach small groups of little ones while still a student myself). At first, it was a difficult adjustment. I worried that it would be a lot of work that didn’t come naturally to me. But despite some early struggles, I had a good time doing it—especially sharing the experience with the other interns.
Penny Brill, violist, Pittsburgh Symphony; Founder, MUSACOR.com (Musicians as a Community Resource)
During this time of profound disruption, music for social change organizations have the opportunity to explore new possibilities for collaboration with professional orchestras. This is easier for some than others; not every city has both an orchestra and a social change program. The Pittsburgh Symphony, for example, does not have an El Sistema program in the city—but through their Learning and Community Engagement Department, they have collaborated with many local youth programs.
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.
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.
Axelle Miel, Ambassadors Program Leader; violinist and aspiring teaching artist
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.