Teaching & Learning

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

In Toronto, a Student-Driven Social Curriculum Inspires New Learning

04-06-2021

When Toronto’s schools closed in March 2020, we knew we were in for a challenging spring of adapting to the technological and musical challenges of remote learning. We also knew that students would be struggling with feelings of isolation, anxiety, and boredom, and it would be vitally important for us to offer help with these emotional and social challenges. Luckily, we were somewhat prepared for the transition, thanks to our Social Curriculum activities. These activities had the potential to be a key support for our students and staff—as long as we could figure out an effective, accessible way to adapt them to the online format.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the 10/20/30 Pledge

04-06-2021

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Digital Promise Publishes Inclusive Innovation Report

04-06-2021

In December 2020, Digital Promise (an organization supporting innovation in education) convened more than 900 teachers, district leaders, charter leaders, researchers, and Black, Brown, and Indigenous organization leaders to reimagine the recruitment and retention of teachers of color.

“I Can and I Will”: Making Beautiful Music at Open Air School

03-03-2021

The Open Air School in Durban, South Africa is a long-standing institution offering education to learners who have physical impairments, from pre-primary through grade 12. Their motto, “I can and I will,” is how I have come to know each child I meet at the school. Nothing is beyond their reach or capability.

NYC Composition Program Offers Mentorship from Professionally Trained Composers

03-02-2021

Opportunity Music Project in New York City has announced the launch of their new Composition Program.

Arts and Disabilities: Service-Learning in Trinidad and Tobago

02-03-2021

The first service-learning course I taught at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) was a Residency in Community Arts. I chose to partner with the Consortium of Disabilities Organization (CODO) to offer my students a mentored residency working with students with disabilities. As I don’t have a background in special education, I decided to collaborate with a colleague from the University of the West Indies, music therapist Jean Raabe, to run an intensive workshop before the semester and join me in mentoring students on the project.

Bringing Jazz into the Mix in Orquestra Geração, Sistema Portugal

02-03-2021

The slogan of Orquestra Geração suggests something deeper than just playing music. The idea of touching lives (in Portuguese, “tocamos” means “we play/we touch”) asserts that we can positively transform the lives of children and young people through music, giving them a feeling of unlimited potential. What I didn’t know before teaching in this program was that the slogan would apply to me as well, and that my life would be so intensely touched and transformed.

Words Matter, More Than You Think

02-02-2021

If I were King of Arts Education, I’d post an edict banning five words: amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, incredible.

Most music educators use those words a lot, and always with good intent. They want to encourage, celebrate, and motivate their students. The words express the enthusiasm and affection they feel for their students. The King supports all of that. The edict has its eye on the cost of that impulse when it results in hyperbolic acclaim. Cumulatively, the cost is high.

An Interview with Dream Orchestra Founder/Director Ron Davis Álvarez

01-06-2021

Last month, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music recognized Dream Orchestra Director (and El Sistema Sweden Artistic Director) Ron Davis Álvarez with the Göran Lagervall Pedagogy Prize for “his activities in 40 cultural schools, where he renewed the pedagogical orchestral tradition with his experience from Venezuela.” Just days later, Álvarez conducted a performance for the Global Teacher Prize Award Gala, hosted digitally this year. A former candidate for the Global Teacher Prize himself, Álvarez conducted 70 students from ten countries in a performance of Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave.” Afterward, Álvarez was kind enough to sit down with The World Ensemble to discuss his busy week, his experiences with the Dream Orchestra, and his pedagogical philosophy.

Youth-Driven Online Music-Making: Channeling innovation through the screen and into the global community

01-05-2021

For ensemble music learning programs, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed at first to mean a mandate to compromise music learning, by squeezing and narrowing curriculums to fit into a suddenly two-dimensional space. As time went on, however, the field blossomed with creative initiatives. For our programs, the crisis was a call to action not only to channel innovation through a screen, but also to blow it open into a far-reaching, multi-dimensional, and globally expansive experience. The key? Collaboration—the kind that stretches to every corner of the globe the Internet can touch.

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