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

Making Time for the Milestones

01-05-2021

This past summer, the evening that Play On Philly (POP) presented its virtual showcase concert happened to mark the ten-year anniversary of our decision to launch the program. As I sat at my laptop watching, I felt sad not to be celebrating that milestone in person with my POP family. But I also felt gratitude as I reflected on how our community has supported each other since the day we started. We have always embraced the El Sistema philosophy and encouraged our students and teachers to reach for levels of learning and engagement we know are possible to achieve.

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.

Music for the Whole Community, One Backyard at a Time

01-05-2021

East Lake Expression Engine (ELEE), which began in 2014, serves the East Lake neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We usually serve 75 to 100 kids each semester. Our program meets in a church that is conveniently located between the elementary and middle schools that serve our neighborhood. East Lake is wonderfully walkable; our staff members walk to the elementary school to pick up our students there, and our middle and high school students walk to us. Several of our staff members live in the neighborhood. This has long provided us with daily opportunities for casual, neighborly relationships with our students’ families. During 2020, that proximity has been invaluable.

NAMM Offers Digital Believe in Music Week

01-05-2021

The National Association of Music Merchants cannot host its gigantic annual national conference this year because of the pandemic, so they offer an online Believe in Music Week—a free global gathering during the week of January 18, to connect and support people who bring music to the world. Superstar speakers you know will be announced soon. Registration is free and open to all. Find out what the online conference offers here and register here.

YOLA National Festival Opens Auditions for the 2021 Season—deadline Mar. 1

01-05-2021

The YOLA National Festival has opened its audition portal for its July 2021 orchestral training program. Open to students from all Sistema-inspired programs; students ages 12–18 are encouraged to apply for one of the two ensembles, the Symphony Orchestra (ages 14–18) or the Chamber Orchestra (ages 12–14). The intensive experience is tentatively scheduled to take place in person in Southern California, but an official update on in-person vs. virtual programming options will be shared no later than April 1. Applications are due March 1 and recommendation letters are due March 8.

Sphinx Opens Calls for Sphinx Performance Academy and the SphinxConnect 2021 Conference—deadline Feb. 9

01-05-2021

Sphinx is accepting applications for the Sphinx Performance Academy, a “full-scholarship intensive summer chamber music and solo performance program with a focus on cultural diversity.” In collaboration with the Curtis Institute of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School, the program is offered to string musicians ages 11–17. Participating students will have a chance to learn from active and celebrated chamber musicians and university faculty from across the country. Applications are due February 9, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Apply to Be a Vocal Justice Teaching Fellow—deadline Jan. 8

01-05-2021

Vocal Justice, a culturally affirming public speaking program, will welcome its first cohort of high school educators in January 2021 as part of its Vocal Justice Teaching Fellowship, designed to empower Black and Brown high school students to become leaders in their communities. Between February and May 2021, selected Fellows will facilitate weekly virtual one-hour workshops with a consistent group of students, teaching them how to communicate authentically and persuasively about social justice issues. Applications are due by Friday, January 8 at 3 p.m. PST, and there is a paid stipend for participation if selected.

San Diego Youth Symphony Collaborates for a Performance of Ravel, Dvořák

01-05-2021

With the holiday season coming to a close, enjoy these highlights from the San Diego Youth Symphony, who put together a virtual presentation of Ravel’s Bolero and excerpts from Dvořák’s New World Symphony. They used the platform Smart Music to practice recording and collaboration with their peers; check out the final product here.

ArtPlace America and Creative Generation Quantify Impact of Creative Youth on Communities

01-05-2021

The Creative Youth & Community Development research initiative, commissioned by ArtPlace America and led by Creative Generation, investigates the intersections of arts and culture, community development, and youth development. The initiative produced a series of web-based tools and resources created by and for practitioners that live on the ArtPlace America website. “Centering Creating Youth in Community Development: A Creative Placemaking Field Scan,” addressed this question: What impact do creative youth have on communities? Their answers offer sets of findings: community benefits defined by young creatives, opportunities for partnering to expand the reach of projects, and defining success in new ways. Read more here.

New Poll Shows U.S. Parents’ Chief Concerns for Children’s Health

01-05-2021

What are U.S. parents most worried about regarding their children’s health? Two surprises in a new poll—it differs among different racial groups, and it isn’t COVID. Latinx and white parents are most concerned about their kids’ use of social media—both the amount of time spent and the danger of bullying. Black parents are most concerned about racism and COVID. See what the parents of your students may be most worried about.

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