Teaching & Learning
The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
Free professional development clock hours have been made available by the National Association for Music Education in response to the unprecedented cancelations of conferences and shift to online teaching. These resources, including ten webinars from NAfME Academy, 14 articles from Music Educator Journal, and Live Professional Learning Community webinar series, are peer-reviewed and specifically developed for and by music educators.
Buffalo String Works in Buffalo, NY has worked with refugee students from Afghanistan, Burma, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and Syria. Though inspired by the international El Sistema model, the organization faced plenty of cultural hurdles in working to serve the diverse population. Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership has written a case study examining the early years of BSW as it worked to adapt to the needs of the community. Read more to learn how they strived for “cultural humility” and musical excellence simultaneously—these lessons in inclusion can be applied to all programs, no matter their makeup.
A sense of safety and connectedness is the foundation of successful student learning, but natural disasters can cause turmoil. The impacts of the current pandemic have upended all our familiar routines and rituals, so we must re-dedicate ourselves to these practices. New York City’s WHIN Music Community Charter School cleverly addresses the issues of familiarity and routine for their disrupted students in a video that welcomes them to their online classes.
El Sistema Colorado Staff and Teaching Artists
As words like pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing enter our daily vocabulary, El Sistema–inspired programs everywhere are asking the same question: How do we continue making music in the midst of COVID-19? El Sistema Colorado, like so many other organizations, went online.
Hillary Harder, ECoSistema Coordinator, Elkhart County, IN
For the past year, I have enjoyed meeting with a group of educators and administrators from the El Sistema USA community who seek to collectively define “equity.” Our goal is to educate ourselves about big ideas—systemic access barriers, intersectionality and identity, culturally responsive teaching—and articulate what they mean for us. At the core of these conversations is the idea that El Sistema–inspired programs are uniquely positioned to work toward equity. Maestro Abreu paved the way with his vision of universal access and social change through music education; today, in our North American context, the El Sistema-inspired field must engage with the dynamics of race, class, gender, ability, language, and social factors. If we seek to deeply know and empower our students, these conversations are crucial.
Seth Truby, Executive Director and Co-founder, BRAVO Youth Orchestras, Portland, OR
Each spring, the students of BRAVO Youth Orchestras in Portland, Oregon take the stage alongside professional musicians with international backgrounds in a celebration of the world of music called Crossing Borders. BRAVO’s young musicians have played jigs from Ireland, lullabies from Morocco, bossa novas from Brazil, Latin pop from Mexico, a French-Canadian fiddle concerto, and so much more. Their professional collaborators have included jazz pianist Darrell Grant, electric looping violinist Joe Kye, Trinidadian neo-soul singer Blossom, and world-renowned Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, among others. Crossing Borders is a highlight of BRAVO’s program year and also serves as our primary fundraising event, generating needed revenue to support our rigorous after-school music programs in priority schools. Our audiences are delighted to see a full student orchestra (strings, winds, and percussion) playing music from so many traditions alongside their professional musical partners.
The Braitmayer Foundation supports innovative practices in K-12 education in the US, especially curricular and school reform initiatives and professional development opportunities for teachers. Apply for seed grants, challenge grants, and matching grants of up to $35,000. Letters of inquiry may be submitted through March 15, 2020.
Socio-emotional learning (SEL) is increasingly seen as an essential component of success for students in El Sistema-inspired programs. SEL skills like self-awareness, self-management, interpersonal relating skills, and responsible decision-making are naturally developed in strong programs, becoming key to students’ success in fulfilling their life ambitions in or outside of music. Teachers know that to help young people develop these skills, they need intentionality and strong support from families. The Social Emotional Learning Toolkit: Family Engagement is a new guide from Move This World, and may be particularly helpful to you. The 50-page report is practical-minded, aiming to provide everything you need to bring families into active support in strengthening SEL in students.
Zachary Bush, Co-Founder, Leading Tones Music, LLC
How to find repertoire that excites our students and invites inclusion of their many different skill levels? The Harmony Project Phoenix (HPP) has been exploring this question in the course of a several-year partnership with Arizona State University (ASU).