Teaching & Learning

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

El Sistema Venezuela: Academic Strategies in Times of Confinement

11-04-2020

As the new school year takes off, we think it is a good moment to reach out to our friends in Sistema-inspired projects around the world, to share our experiences in teaching and caring for our kids throughout the months of quarantine.

Cultural Equity Resource Center Recently Launched by Americans for the Arts

11-04-2020

Americans for the Arts has launched a Cultural Equity Resource Center. Like their widely used Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center, this will be updated regularly with information about programming, resources, and news to assist all in achieving our racial/social justice goals. They will keep adding to it—upcoming is a directory of equity consultants and service providers. If you have a resource to add, let them know.

Support for Teachers Affected by Trauma

11-04-2020

Teachers working in high-need communities may want to explore STAT, or Support for Teachers Affected by Trauma. Geared primarily toward PreK–12 educators, STAT offers a five-module, self-paced course that invites participants to engage in a range of STS learning interactives, explore scenarios that highlight the impact of STS, listen to teachers describe their experiences, and more.

A Collection of Resources in Support of Black Lives Matter from Chamber Music America

11-04-2020

The staff of Chamber Music America has compiled a collection of resources in support of Black Lives Matter to advance anti-racist work in the music community. You can also find BLM support resources from Creative Capital.

El Sistema Programs Share Their Resources

11-03-2020

As a result of the pandemic, El Sistema programs are launching initiatives that aim to share their learning more widely. Play On Philly is opening its resources and programming to students in non-Sistema programs across the country—not just in Philly. Read more about how they’re doing it here. Similarly, the Harmony Program in New York has developed an original series of YouTube-based beginner music lessons for learners ages 7–10, called “Harmony at Home.” This free, year-long series consists of weekly, 30-minute lessons in music fundamentals from prominent artists, including Joshua Bell, Anthony McGill, Jamie Bernstein, and Imani Winds. No instruments necessary.

Royal College of Music Offers Three-Day Course on Teaching Young Musicians

10-15-2020

The Royal College of Music in Stockholm and El Sistema Academy in Sweden are teaming up to offer a three-day course on developing musicianship in young people, titled “Subject didactics for teaching children and young people in orchestral playing and choir singing.” Taught by Ronny Linderborg in collaboration with Ron Davis Alvarez (Artistic Director of El Sistema Sweden), the course will take place January 29–31. This offering is free of charge for citizens in the EU, in the EEA states of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and in Switzerland, though citizens of other countries will need to pay the registration and tuition fees. It is promising to see El Sistema receive continued recognition and prominence at higher learning institutions, so please share this widely and consider signing up yourself. The application period ends on October 15; read more about the course here.

Continuing to Make Music, One Virtual Video at a Time

10-06-2020

Like programs all over the country, Make Music NOLA (MMN) was forced in March 2020 to quickly reinvent our programs for virtual learning. For our after-school students, we created weekly video lessons designed to take the place of their music theory, chamber ensemble, and fiddle classes. But these videos weren’t workable for the 100 students we reach through in-school programming—who attend several different charter schools, were doing remote learning through different systems, and, because of the abruptness of school closures, didn’t even have instruments at home.

Music as a Birthright in Elkhart County

10-06-2020

In Elkhart County, Indiana, our goal is to provide all people with equitable access to quality music education from birth to young adulthood. We believe music is a birthright for every child in our community—that the extraordinary benefits of music education should be built into the fabric of every young person’s upbringing. It’s not a coincidence that the name of our program, ECoSistema (Elkhart County El Sistema), means “ecosystem” in Spanish: we believe that the El Sistema-inspired field can have the greatest impact when we take the overlapping systems already in place in our community and build music into them.

Decolonizing the Music Room

09-16-2020

A new organization has been launched in the U.S. to address the racial inequities in music education. Decolonizing the Music Room is a non-profit organization that aims to use research, training, and discourse to help music educators center the voices and experiences of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian people, challenging the historical dominance of white Western European and American music, narratives, and practices. In their own words: “We at DTMR aim to disrupt the minimization and erasure of non-dominant cultures and identities in the field of music education to build a more equitable future through our work.” Resources include suggested reading, podcasts, firsthand accounts from other music educators, video blogs, and more. We are resharing this The Ensemble resource for our international readers, as music educators across the world continue to look beyond the Western canon.

Teaching Artistry as a Balance for Cultural Education Mentalities

09-02-2020

While living in Sweden over the past year, I observed that the education system excels at nurturing student autonomy. Sweden is a small country with only a handful of classical percussionists (or any instrument) at each university. Many professors teach part-time and are seldom on campus, particularly at my host institution, Örebro University. In response, students often initiate repertoire selections, schedule ensemble rehearsals, and coach themselves. Without the constant direction of teachers, they must formulate musical interpretations and direct personal growth.

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