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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.

The New YOLA Center

09-02-2018

The first building ever designed entirely for a Sistema-inspired program in the United States, the YOLA Center at Inglewood, is now under construction in Los Angeles.  The YOLA Center will be the fourth program site for the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, and will also provide space for citywide YOLA rehearsals and events. 

Elevating the Holiday/Winter Concert

09-01-2018

Every year, one of the highlights of the winter concert at Sistema Ravinia in Chicago is the moment when the young musicians whack their guests on the head. Let me be more specific: the real highlight is when one young musician almost whacks a guest on the head with a boomwhacker the size of a pool noodle.

From the Editor

09-01-2018

When does the percussion player in a symphony orchestra ever stand right by the principal clarinetist’s shoulder?

The answer: when the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra (SEYO) is rehearsing Danzon Number 2, by Arturo Marquez – which begins in a sensuous hush, with a solo clarinet melody over woodblock beats. “It’s just a few of you starting this beautiful piece, “ said Maestro Sascha Goetzel, who was leading the rehearsal. “So let’s put you physically together, so that you can play fully together.”

Working with Urban Youth

09-01-2018

As a teacher, musician and administrator in an El Sistema-inspired program, I ask myself four principal questions every September. First, Who are our students? In my community, they are generally black and Hispanic, from low-income and/or single-parent households or dual language households. In choosing how to shape ensembles and repertoire, I rely heavily on my students’ backgrounds; I often make choices that help them learn from one another about their different languages, holidays, and cultures.

Attend ITAC4 for free!

08-12-2018

ITAC4, the Fourth International Teaching Artist Conference, will take place in New York City on 13-15 September (first time in the United States), and is completely sold out. 

From the Editor

08-01-2018

We’re ten years old!

2008 saw the beginning of most of our oldest programs, including OrchKids in Baltimore, the Harmony Program in New York City, and Orchestrating Diversity in St. Lous. YOLA began in 2007…but its first rehearsal with Gustavo Dudamel was in 2008. So I think we’re safe to consider this year the tenth anniversary of our emergence as a national movement.

A Social Skills Curriculum

08-01-2018

Sistema Toronto is in its second year of a three-year project dedicated to building a detailed and integrated curriculum focused on musical and social learning outcomes for its 250 students, aged 6-12. The music curricula components include music and moment, strings, choir, and percussion. We are also creating an integrated social curriculum, developed by a team of our teachers and rooted in experiential learning pedagogy, that is intended to be woven into teaching and learning outcomes for all music classes.

Take A Stand 2018

08-01-2018

I had the privilege last month of attending the L.A. Phil’s 2018 Take a Stand Festival, Symposium, and Teaching Intensive. The Festival brought together students aged 12-18 from programs directly inspired by El Sistema or similarly dedicated to social change and youth development through instrumental music education. About 140 students, from 36 programs in 19 states plus Puerto Rico, participated in this ten-day festival, which began at Soka University in Orange County and finished in Los Angeles with performances in Walt Disney Concert Hall. The students were grouped into two ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestros Gustavo Dudamel and Michael Morgan, and the Junior String Ensemble, conducted by Maestros Jeffrey Grogan and Soo Han.

El Sistema USA Awards Thirteen PRESTO Grants

07-31-2018

Thirteen U.S. El Sistema-inspired programs have been accepted (after a competitive application
process) into El Sistema USA’s PRESTO grant program, which provides group learning, mentorship, and funding to programs in their first five years. 

Preparing Students for “The Big Event”

07-01-2018

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