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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.

FROM THE EDITOR, February 2019

02-01-2019

A few weeks ago, several dozen students from the Trenton, NJ Sistema program Trenton Music Makers began their New Year by visiting the campus of Princeton University, a 20-minute drive but a world away from their daily lives. They were jittery with excitement as they piled into a classroom in the university’s Woolworth Music Building, took out their instruments and began to tune. It wasn’t so much Princeton that gave them the jitters; it was the fact that they were about to play for one of the greatest maestros in the world.

Collective Composition

02-01-2019

At BRAVO Youth Orchestras, there are ongoing conversations about the impact of introducing collective composition–composing together as a group–often focusing on how it impacts the staff, our students, and our community, and on what it means to facilitate and support a collective musical voice. There’s an active effort to establish equitable practices that reinforce a supportive environment for BRAVO students during creative projects. BRAVO’s central goal is student empowerment to discover what it is they want to say through their music.

The Greater Sistema Vision

01-01-2019

In 2015, the Mass Cultural Council created the SerHacer program, a granting opportunity focused on intensive, ensemble-based music programs that use music as a vehicle for youth development and social change. Inspired by the work of El Sistema, the program supports a wide variety of in-school and community organizations, to expand access to social and artistic music-making opportunities.

From the Editor, January 2019

01-01-2019

In the time-honored tradition of pausing on the cusp of a new year to look both forward and back, I’ve been reflecting this week on two questions. How has our Sistema-inspired movement made progress, and what areas are most in need of improvement? Here are my thoughts.

Teaching the Future

01-01-2019

The majority of the American music teaching workforce is white. This would not be an issue if it matched U.S. school demographics. However, in city schools where the general population is majority students of color, the music student population is considerably more white. While there are multiple factors contributing to this, it may be best understood as a lack of access to quality music education that provides opportunities for students of color to choose careers in music teaching. The fact that students of color do not see music teachers who look like them is a form of social injustice.

Supporting the Young Artist’s Initiative

12-01-2018

This fall marks the second year of an exciting new talent development program at Play On Philly! Our Emerging Artist Collective (PEAC) is a cohort of nearly twenty students who have demonstrated the utmost dedication and whose families have demonstrated the devotion needed for success. Unlike all other Play On Philly students, those in PEAC receive private lessons and advocacy as they navigate Philadelphia’s musical landscape. As director of this program, I work to show them that a life playing music and immersed in music is a true possibility for them.

What It Really Takes

12-01-2018

Tuned In is a music program based in Baltimore City that provides free, top-notch musical training for young musicians. As a Tuned In graduate, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from a lot of non-profit art programs. Most of all, I really enjoy meeting people who are in the beginning stages of launching their own program.

From the Editor

12-01-2018

I’ve been thinking lately about the problematic nature of the relationship between Sistema and pop music. I don’t mean the genre issue. I am a fan of many current pop artists and much pop music. And I think it’s absolutely essential that Sistema programs embrace ensemble arrangements of the pop music that is meaningful to our kids. So this is not about “classical” versus “pop.” Rather, it’s about the collaborative ethos at the heart of Sistema versus the cult of individual celebrity that dominates pop culture.

Introducing the L.A. Orchestra Fellowship

11-16-2018

A model to adopt?  This was the first year of the L.A. Orchestra Fellowship, a two-year intensive for musicians who play violin, viola and cello.

More Than the Sum of Our Parts

11-01-2018

We start with the premise, “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Collaboration is not a simple process – it is so much easier just to insulate your organization and do everything in exactly the way you would like. But then the larger purpose that so many of us are working towards – life-changing opportunities for young people that are made possible by equitable music education for all – will never be achieved.

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