Program Design

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

Four Different Reopening Plans for Schools, Fall 2020

06-02-2020

With all El Sistema programs considering options for fall activities, given uncertain health regulations, this article from EdSurge may be helpful. It details the four most prominent reopening plans that schools are currently considering.

Sharing Our Work during COVID-19

06-02-2020

As learning programs of every kind and in every part of the world find ways to respond to the global health crisis, El Sistema-inspired programs are doing what we encourage our students to do: we are learning from one another. At Miami Music Project, we quickly reached out to El Sistema USA about creating resources for other El Sistema-inspired programs. We were excited to learn that Monique Van Willingh, Director of the Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at Longy School of Music at Bard College, was already working to develop a webinar series with the goal of sharing field experiences and best practices of organizations that are successfully transitioning to digital programming. Since summer camp activities are the immediate concern for many El Sistema-inspired programs around North America, El Sistema USA President Katie Wyatt reached out to several program leaders to begin sharing their experiences and innovations in this area.

“No Matter What, We’re Going to Do a Camp”: Side by Side Goes Digital

06-01-2020

When El Sistema Sweden and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (GSO) began accepting applications for the annual Side by Side by El Sistema international youth music and choir camp, taking place from June 13–16 this year, the coronavirus pandemic had yet to stop the world in its tracks. Applications poured in that first day—roughly 1,000 of them, despite the website shutting down for a few hours due to server issues. That number doubled shortly thereafter as applications continued to pour in from across the world.

El Sistema Sweden Announces “Side by Side: Digital”

05-18-2020

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Bringing the Joy of Music to Children of Johannesburg

05-04-2020

The Music Enlightenment Project (MEP) is a community-based initiative in the heart of Braamfontein, Johannesburg, with the vision of a world where the lives of all children are transformed and enriched through music education.

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.

Crossing Borders: A Musical Passport to the World

04-07-2020

Each spring, the students of BRAVO Youth Orchestras in Portland, Oregon take the stage alongside professional musicians with international backgrounds in a celebration of the world of music called Crossing Borders. BRAVO’s young musicians have played jigs from Ireland, lullabies from Morocco, bossa novas from Brazil, Latin pop from Mexico, a French-Canadian fiddle concerto, and so much more. Their professional collaborators have included jazz pianist Darrell Grant, electric looping violinist Joe Kye, Trinidadian neo-soul singer Blossom, and world-renowned Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, among others. Crossing Borders is a highlight of BRAVO’s program year and also serves as our primary fundraising event, generating needed revenue to support our rigorous after-school music programs in priority schools. Our audiences are delighted to see a full student orchestra (strings, winds, and percussion) playing music from so many traditions alongside their professional musical partners.

The Ubuntu Music Program: Strengthening Community through Music and Athletics

04-02-2020

The Playing For Change Foundation has been working in Rwanda since 2011, using music and sports as tools for positive change and education. Ubuntu is a Bantu word that means “humanity towards others”; the Ubuntu Philosophy is a humanist concept that could be summed up as “I am because we are,” and is based on the idea that there is a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. This way of thinking inspired the name of our program in Rwanda: the Ubuntu Music Program.

Harmonizing Across Many Languages

02-04-2020

At Sistema New Brunswick (NB) on Canada’s east coast, we’ve recently faced a unique challenge with broad implications: How best to integrate students of disparate languages into one program? What began in 2009 with one centre and 50 children has grown to over 1,200 children daily, in ten locations, all learning and playing orchestral music. Until September 2019, however, all of these students worked in their own districts, using their own languages.

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