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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.

Choosing Strength-Based Messaging

06-01-2021

This article from Prosper Strategies examines the importance of how nonprofits describe their work, offering “dos and don’ts” for authentic communication. “Four Myths about Strength-Based Messaging” discusses three common types of messaging in the nonprofit sector: stereotype-based messaging, needs-based messaging, and strength-based messaging. Author Lindsay Mullen argues for organizations to use strength-based messaging in their communication, highlighting common mistakes that inadvertently perpetuate harmful narratives regarding the very communities we seek to uplift.

Youth Mental Health in Crisis

06-01-2021

Medical experts in Colorado urge the declaration of a state mental health emergency for its young people: “We are seeing our pediatric emergency departments and our inpatient units overrun with kids attempting suicide and suffering from other forms of major mental health illness.” This Chalkbeat article about the circumstances that led to the declaration demonstrates the gravity of the crisis across all states.

Art-Train Offers Funding Tips and Tech Assistance for Arts Workers

06-01-2021

Art-Train is moving down the tracks. Created by Springboard for the Arts and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, it is a virtual technical assistance program for artists, municipal agencies, community nonprofits, and arts councils in communities of all sizes across the U.S. Most prominently, Art-Train gets you up to speed on all the ways to tap government funding connected to pandemic relief you may have missed.

A Radical Notion: Teaching Artists as Essential Workers

06-01-2021

Teaching artists have been quiet, often unsung, heroes of this pandemic. This Arts Education Policy Review piece by three leaders in Seattle argues for the recognition of teaching artists as essential workers. The article, “Re-imagining personal and organizational polices as sources of radical change: perspectives from a teaching artist, organization, and city,” includes an interesting history of teaching artistry, from Paleolithic caves to Grandmaster Flash.

YouTube Star Reimagines Music Theory Lessons

06-01-2021

It is possible! YouTube star Adam Neely has made music theory fun, entertaining, even fascinating.

Abandoning Classical Music Escapism and Redefining Excellence

05-04-2021

In a lot of ways, I was steeped in Black music growing up. It wasn’t until college that I realized there were areas where someone needed to actively be advocating for Black music. I wasn’t totally aware of this because I grew up surrounded by and participating in gospel music, one of the most deep-rooted musical traditions of Black America. When I started studying piano, I was introduced to what many of us know as “classical music,” and began to learn names like Haydn, Bach, and Mozart. This is also the point in time that I usually reference as the beginning of my musical training. Only recently did I notice that distinction, and the reason why is directly tied to what that “musical training” looked and felt like. Though I had been making music for some time, the centering of Western European classical music as the pinnacle of musicianship affected how I thought about my own music-making. Eventually, I realized that this limited musical perspective was doing more than creating a hierarchy—it was inhibiting musicians from tackling crucial and relevant issues, and hindering equity.

Midcasting* Toward Just Futures: Creative Youth Development’s Waymaking to Systems Change through and beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

05-04-2021

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, creative youth development (CYD) organizations have been expanding their work to provide greater support to students, families, and communities impacted by the pandemic. To strengthen this response from the field, The Lewis Prize for Music offered a COVID-19 Response grant to 32 organizations of varying size and geographic locations. Totaling 1.25 million dollars, the fund supported organizations that were leading direct response efforts in their communities. These efforts offered mental health support, food access, housing security, civic engagement support, and academic support, among other things, alongside digital adaptation of regular program activities. Additionally, many CYD organizations supported youth engagement in various forms of movement-building, including, but not limited to, the Black Lives Matter movement and work against voter suppression.

CMW Students Create Album for Local Charity

05-04-2021

As many programs learned over this past year, few aspects of our work outweigh the importance of showing up for our communities—even when that takes us away from music education. It’s even possible you’ve created, or considered creating, a special fundraising event to raise money for non-musical programs that your students care about. On Friday, April 16, students of Community MusicWorks’ Daily Orchestra Program found a way to merge their work with community giving, presenting a fun album of favorite animal songs to raise funds for the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the students’ choice of beneficiary). The premiere included meeting pets, watching a puppet show, and learning to make balloon animals. What a strong citizenship lesson for students. Visit CMW’s website to learn more about Animal Songs, and watch their creation on CMW’s YouTube channel.

El Sistema USA Introduces Two New Awards for Students and Teachers

05-04-2021

On May 14, El Sistema USA will launch two new annual awards—one honoring a teacher, and one honoring a student—to be presented for the first time at their 2022 Symposium. The fundraising event for The Mark Churchill Teacher of the Year Award and the El Sistema USA Student of the Year Award (and to support student seminaries) will be Friday, May 14, 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT. Beyond introducing the awards, the event will include musical performances and inspirational messages and celebrate the legacy of El Sistema USA founder Mark Churchill. Learn more and get tickets on the ESUSA website.

Rebuilding Your Program? You May Need Different Tools

05-04-2021

My Papa grew up on the oil fields of Northern Michigan in the 1940s. He learned quickly the importance of working smarter, not harder; when anybody was faced with a challenge he would say, “Get a bigger hammer, son.” For a long time, I didn’t understand what it meant. But this year, the Kalamazoo Kids In Tune staff and I have leaned into this idea more than ever.

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