Student Voice & Leadership
The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
Over the past few years, our Ensemble Ambassador initiative has blossomed into a lively, collaborative space for young people across the world to share their perspectives in our field. They’ve ruminated on pandemic learning and life in general; shared playlists of their current favorite songs; written beautifully about their favorite places to visit; and even led a session at the El Sistema USA Symposium and Seminario. In finding and raising their voices, this group is just scratching the surface of what they can achieve.
Coding is a popular buzzword in schools, especially when it comes to STEM education. If your tech-savvy students are also interested in coding, they may be excited to learn about EarSketch. This new learning tool is designed for teachers and students alike—helping students learn to code as part of their music-making process, and offering teachers a complete curriculum that includes teaching materials and resources. The service is free to use; visit their website to learn more.
Ben Makarchuk, writer for The Roots of Music
Silence does not belong in New Orleans. Here, any excuse for a celebration is met with a full-blown, over-the-top extravaganza. Noise is welcomed, and our best noise-producers—musicians—play a crucial role in everyday life.
Of course, one type of ensemble represents New Orleans better than any other: the marching band. In New Orleans, a marching band is a magnet; it brings people together and shares with them a piece of the region’s soul. But in 2020, the silent spread of the coronavirus left New Orleanians without this deep tradition. It left New Orleans without its noise.
Kimberly Mendoza, Youth Leader, The Institute of Music for Children
The Institute of Music for Children is a community arts organization serving students in elementary through high school. The Institute offers beginner- and advanced-level classes in guitar, piano, drawing/painting, filmmaking, singing, dancing, and more. All year long (including summers!), students are exposed to different art forms as they develop new personal interests—meeting new friends, seeing old ones, and socializing through the art and enrichment classes offered here. It is more than a creative hub; it provides young people with a caring and welcoming family.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Institute’s Youth Leader Program. None of the summer camps I ever attended had anything like it—a program essentially designed to help us grow up.
Enjoy this short documentary from Ottawa-based program OrKidstra about the highs and lows of musical growth and achievement. Produced entirely virtually, You Are Your Own Best Teacher: OrKidstra’s Masterclass Story is a 20-minute video that shares how OrKidstra members kept the music going during distance learning.
“Student voice” is a focus of many music for social change programs. This recording of the annual school show at Renaissance Arts Academy (created virtually in this pandemic year) sets a high bar for student originality and authentic expression. RenArts, as it’s called, is a charter school in Los Angeles that infuses artistry throughout its curriculum and offers extended-day Sistema-like programs in music and dance.
Toward the end of May, Melbourne experienced our fourth COVID-19 lockdown as a result of 26 new cases in two days. Unfortunately, the cases continued to increase, and the lockdown was extended from one week to two. As such, Pizzicato Effect once again returned to online learning. Happily, as we reached the third week of staying indoors, the number of daily cases decreased, and we were able to return to on-site learning.
The National Guild hosts weekly calls on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. EDT for young artists ages 13–24 across the country. The calls encourage these young artists to “artistically explore different art forms, challenges, and opportunities to thrive together.”
Amira Axelle Miel, Ambassador (Philippines)
I am honored to be a part of this year’s World Ensemble Ambassadors, a talented bunch of youth musicians from nine countries around the world. As much as I love sharing stories with them and writing about our respective programs, I also look forward to growing in my artistry through the mentorship that we receive as Ambassadors.
Christina Placilla, Director of Education, The Harmony Program, and Dan Trahey, Founder and Creative Director, The Collective Conservatory; Creator and Director, Tuned In, The Peabody Institute at the Johns Hopkins University; and Artistic Liaison, OrchKids, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Earlier this year, Dan Trahey and Pete Tashjian of The Collective Conservatory were invited by the Harmony Program to facilitate an eight-week Saturday-morning creativity workshop with students from multiple Harmony Program sites across New York City. The partnership was a natural fit. The Collective Conservatory’s work is rooted in creating environments that allow for personal expression, group problem-solving, self-esteem building through promoting individual assets, self-awareness, and increased musical skill sets. The Harmony Program, which provides after-school music education programs in underserved NYC communities, has long prioritized the development of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. As a natural extension of The Collective Conservatory’s programming, the workshop emphasized SEL to create a framework and pathway to concretely study creativity.