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.
Have you heard good ideas from your students or young colleagues about ways they might engage in music-making with other isolated students? Now, there just might be a grant to support that idea for young people ages 13-25: Peace First’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants. Apply here.
The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation Scholarship Program will award over 40 students attending a four-year college or university with scholarships from $10,000 to $25,000. Highly gifted musicians with an interest in Latin music genres are encouraged to apply. The deadline for consideration has been extended to April 13. Guidelines and application are available online.
Could your program use some high-powered consulting advice? Recognizing that U.S. arts organizations (including Sistema programs) will be hard hit economically by the current health crisis, the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland (one of the nation’s leading training and consulting organizations) offers pro bono hourlong consultations for any U.S.-based non-profit arts or culture organization between March and June 2020. Contact them here.
The Canadian Awesome Music Project, which includes teaching artists in Sistema New Brunswick, raises funds to address mental health issues. They have created “The Awesome Music Project Canada: Songs of Hope and Happiness,” a compilation of intimate stories by Canadians from all walks of life and a tribute to the power of music to change lives. You can support their efforts here.
Since 2007, Music Haven, in New Haven, CT, has delivered strong learning outcomes through programs that primarily serve families living below the federal poverty level, 91% of whom are students of color. In achieving a 100% college matriculation rate, Music Haven built lasting community loyalty that led to it receiving $100,000 directly from state funds—very unusual in the U.S. However, without explanation, their state funding was eliminated from the adjusted 2021 state budget, a devastating blow. Read about what happened next. (Spoiler: the funding made it back into the budget. Community commitment made all the difference!)
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.