the ensemble

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

PlayUSA Grantees Focus on Artistry and Belonging

05-01-2019

This year, the fifteen organizations supported by PlayUSA, a national grant-making initiative of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, are focusing on how to maximize their students’ artistic potential while building environments centered on trust and creativity.

FROM THE EDITOR, May 2019

05-01-2019

This issue focuses on engagement –of students, parents, and families. In our lead article, leaders of Carnegie Hall’s PlayUSA initiative describe how their grantee organizations this year are experimenting with many engagement-fostering activities. In the personal column, a parent of two students in a U.S. Sistema program describes how the life of her family has been changed by her daughters’ engagement with the program.

Sistema Parenting

05-01-2019

Since kindergarden, my daughters Geanelly and Haley have attended the Paterson Music Project (PMP). Geanelly plays the viola and Haley plays violin. At first, it was hard for both of my girls to get comfortable with their instruments. For me, the hardest thing to get used to was the extra time I needed to support my daughters in the program—taking them, picking them up, coming to concerts, etc.

Meludia in Action

04-01-2019

How to teach children music theory, composition, and technology? Many El Sistema programs are exploring this important question. At our Sistema-inspired program in Pittsfield and North Adams, MA, students study music theory fundamentals and regularly compose music that is performed by their classmates.

The Archipelago Project

04-01-2019

The Archipelago Project’s objective is to empower student creativity and ownership by supplying musical knowledge, performance opportunities, and professional models to inspire the next generation of engaged musicians. For the past 15 years, Archipelago Project’s iterative process in curriculum design has resulted in our Musical Leadership Academy, a summer music camp focused on providing a diverse population of students and teaching artists with opportunities to create music together, learn when to lead and to listen, and thrive in the ensemble as a metaphor for community.

FROM THE EDITOR, April 2019

04-01-2019

Here’s a challenge for you: define “excellence.”

How did that go? Did the perfectly satisfying definition pop right up? Or are you doing some backing and filling?

FROM THE EDITOR, March 2019

03-01-2019

I am lucky enough to have been able to go to Venezuela and see El Sistema in action, during those golden years when the Sistema threw its doors open wide to an international multitude of visiting musicians and Maestro Abreu dreamed of Caracas becoming the Vienna of the 21st century. Sadly, it’s hard to visit Venezuela at all now, and El Sistema struggles with the same desperate economic and political crisis that grips everyone in that beautiful and beleaguered country. For the global Sistema community, the poignant silver lining of the crisis is the evolution of a kind of Sistema diaspora, with many Venezeulan master teachers, teaching artists and conductors working with programs around the world.

The Symposium: A Reflection

03-01-2019

When I landed in Detroit, Michigan on January 29th for the El Sistema USA Symposium, warnings about the extreme winter temperatures were all over the radio, but I needed to find out on my own. So I took a short walk in my Atlanta “winter clothes”: sneakers, a small coat, no gloves. At that moment, I realized that the next time I went outside in Detroit would be to catch the plane back to Atlanta!

The El Sistema USA National Symposium

03-01-2019

It was clear that the 2019 El Sistema USA National Symposium was going to be special when, in the midst of a historic cold spell, over 200 attendees representing 80 different El Sistema-inspired organizations braved sub-zero temperatures to attend. Attendees arrived early for the welcome and filled the ballroom with the type of vibrant energy surrounding a convening of friends for their annual trip. Christine Taylor Conda, the ESUSA board chair, chose to forgo the typical welcome and, instead, immediately had the entire room singing a three-part song to meet and welcome one another, setting a tone of collaboration and camaraderie for the symposium.

Improvising with Visionary Young People

02-01-2019

I co-founded the Visionary Youth Orchestra (VYO) along with Jessica Jones in New York in 2010. The idea of our project was to provide a workshop/ensemble of young musicians to explore structured free improvisation in a large ensemble setting. The results have been remarkable – this innovative group has garnered great praise in its eight years, and recently had the honor of performing at the Cecil Taylor memorial in NYC.

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