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.

Bugandan Traditions – Amagunjju

09-02-2020

Once upon a time, a king of Buganda died. When his heir was born, the baby’s uncle Gunjju created a dance to keep the young monarch constantly happy, as a crying king is said to bring bad luck. Today, the dance, now called the amagunjju, is performed on various occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, introduction ceremonies, and many others.

Collective Conservatory and The Harmony Project

09-02-2020

This year, despite the ongoing pandemic, students at the Harmony Project exercised their creativity while participating with the Collective Conservatory, an organization that offers immersive and meaningful musical-making experiences for communities to improve youth-development, restorative practices, and wellness.

Student Voices Take the Lead during YOLA National at Home

09-01-2020

For close to a decade, the month of July has meant national Sistema gatherings hosted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and this year was no different—except that it was extremely different, because it was all virtual: YOLA National at Home.

Centering Students in Their Own Mythologies

08-04-2020

Myth and drums are a potent combination. I first encountered the use of drums in men’s circles when I attended a workshop for a rites of passage group led by Dr. Kwa David Whittaker—Nana Kwa, one of my eventual mentors. After I witnessed him playing the djembe drum while relating a powerful story to the group, I knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate the drum into my own work. Before long, I was down in the basement of my house, alone, practicing drumming while reciting mythological stories.

The Importance of Mission Statements

07-07-2020

How do you describe your program to funders? What stories do you tell, and how do they affect your students? These were some of the questions explored in a session called “How We Talk about Our Programs: The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” that I facilitated alongside Dr. Tia Harvey of Accent Pontiac at the El Sistema USA Symposium in January 2020.

National Youth Network Meeting

07-07-2020

The National Guild for Community Arts Education has created a National Youth Network (NYN) Meeting as part of the Creative Youth Development (CYD) movement. Youth practitioners, teaching artists, and culture workers age 13–24 are encouraged to attend this weekly virtual gathering and connect, share, and express themselves creatively. Meetings take place every Friday from 7–8:30 p.m. EDT; for more information, please contact Paula Ortega (youth leader) or Ashley Hare (adult accomplice).

An Open Letter to My Students

07-07-2020

As an educator, I am a role model for young people. In the wake of the social unrest following the death of George Floyd, my students made it clear: not only did they want me to amplify their voices, but they implored me to amplify my own as well. Below is an abridged version of an open letter I wrote them immediately following our discussion. The complete letter can be found at project440.org.

Ambassador Updates, June 2020

06-02-2020

At the moment I started writing this, there were about 3 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, nearly 1.5 million in Europe alone. Now, here in my home country of Serbia, the situation is settling, and everything is easier. The media is already back to discussing the economy, politics, and showbusiness. No one seems to mention how hard this is for the school system. Students are used to contact with their teachers—eye-to-eye conversations in real classrooms—and now everything is online.

Article from Global Youth About the Social Value of Art

06-02-2020

As young people age and move further away from their primary relationships (parents, teachers, schoolmates), they feel less optimistic about their personal futures. Art becomes a point of contact, an urgent communication, and a hope, according to this article with a multinational view in The Conversation: “After Coronavirus: Global youth reveal that the social value of art has never mattered more.”

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.

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