Program Design

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

Meet “The Queen of Paradise Orchestra”: A New Program in Papua New Guinea

01-08-2020

In 1975, the year El Sistema was founded in Venezuela, a tiny new country was founded on the other side of the world: Papua New Guinea. One of the world’s least explored and most rural nations, PNG would seem to have little in common with the homeland of El Sistema. But in 2019, El Sistema came to Papua New Guinea.

Key Learning from the Field: Trust and Empower Your Community

01-07-2020

In the summer of 2014, I arrived on a rainforest island called Pohnpei, in Micronesia (a country in the region of Oceania) to teach high school English. When the school lacked the resources to enable students to explore their passions for music and basketball, the students and I started looking for solutions. This initiative evolved into The International Sports and Music Project (ISMP), an organization that uses sports and music as powerful tools for mental health.

It (Still) Takes a Village

01-07-2020

What does it mean to teach with a village mentality? This is what we do every day at the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra (MYO). Families learning alongside one another is at the core of our program.

Mourning and Honoring a Student Leader

01-07-2020

The hours, days, and weeks following the death of Draylen Mason at the hands of a serial bomber in March of 2018 are difficult to look back upon. To lose any student is indescribably tragic, but losing Dray was a deep and personal anguish to all of us at Austin Soundwaves (ASW); he was, and continues to be, the heart and soul of our El Sistema-inspired program. In mourning, we learned how much we at ASW depend on our students, sometimes leaning on them just as much as (or more than) they lean on us. Their strength was remarkable during that time, and the energy that typically fuels teenage intransigence was instead diverted two-fold into leading music-making and creating remembrances for Dray. We grieved and didn’t simply move on. And though it would have been easy to focus on the perniciousness of the circumstances, we felt a grave and humbling responsibility to persist in recognizing and commemorating Draylen’s growing legacy.

Editorial: December 2019

12-03-2019

Right on time, after ten years of start-up and growth, Sistema programs in the U.S. are entering a new phase, in which we are ready to embark on an exploration of the “Q” word: quality—an essential building block of excellence.

Sistema as School: WHIN’s Ways of Being

12-03-2019

As the world has seen El Sistema stretch far beyond the barrios of Venezuela, musicians, educators and citizen artists around the globe have been experimenting with how to use the principles and ideologies of Maestro Abreu in new and exciting ways. In northern Manhattan, that experiment takes the form of the WHIN (Washington Heights & Inwood) Music Community Charter School, an inclusive full-day charter founded on the principles of El Sistema.

Teaching Habits of Mind

12-03-2019

Nearly a decade ago, I helped transform a public elementary school in Alameda, CA into an arts-integrated elementary school, Maya Lin School. Through this, I learned about the Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM), a framework for learning. Developed by a team of researchers and educators at Harvard’s Project Zero, the eight SHoM are: develop craft, engage and persist, envision, express, observe, reflect, stretch and explore, and understand arts worlds.

BLUME Haiti: Building Leaders Using Music Education in Haiti

12-02-2019

BLUME Haiti uses the extraordinary impact of music as a tool to empower musicians throughout Haiti. Responding to urgent needs after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, co-founder Janet Anthony, who has taught in the country since 1996, saw the opportunity for an organization that could facilitate getting instruments and supplies to Haiti to help with rebuilding efforts. Thus, with the help of her colleagues and students, BLUME Haiti was born.

Partnering with Parents

11-02-2019

The People’s Music School (TPMS) is the first 100% free music school of its kind in the country. Founded in 1976 by Rita Simo, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, our school has grown into a strong community movement. We serve 1,000 students ages 5-18 through programs in the four corners of Chicago: Uptown, Albany Park, Back of the Yards and Bronzeville.

Making a Difference with Mariachi Music

10-01-2019

Advocacy for culturally responsive music curricula that can be used as tools of empowerment for youth in marginalized areas has been the focus of my work for two decades. At The Mariachi Studio, we use mariachi rather than classical music as an agent of social change; but we have many characteristics in common with programs directly inspired by El Sistema.

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