the ensemble

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

In Response to Disaster

01-01-2018

Hurricane Irma will go down as one of the most intense hurricanes in history. Causing widespread devastation and flooding, this 650-mile-wide storm left millions without power and destroyed one out of every four homes throughout our home state of Florida. The panic before the storm was clear, but it was its humbling aftermath that inspired me to think about different ways to help those most affected.

From the Editor

12-01-2017

A U.S. El Sistema program made some national headlines this month: YOLA, the youth orchestra program of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will be getting a new music center designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry is the celebrity architect responsible for Walt Disney Hall, the L.A. Phil’s famously fantastical concert hall. The YOLA center, at 17,000 square feet, will allow the program to double its participants within the next five years.

Developing Student Leaders

12-01-2017

When I began the Corona Youth Music Project in 2010, I was already aware of two feelings: a fear of “founder’s syndrome” and a conviction that young people can accomplish more than they get credit for. In addition to CYMP’s musical and social goals, therefore, a third goal has always been to create an organization whose community can step in and move it forward.

In Alliance: More than the Sum of Their Parts

12-01-2017

“Hey, did you hear that other group playing our song? I wonder how they knew it?” said one incredulous young cellist to another, after hearing another El Sistema group play “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” at the Fiddle and FaLaLa Fest.

With that one simple question, a child’s world opened up. If he had never heard “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” before he learned it as part of his journey with the Paterson Music Project, how could he guess that anyone else could play it?

The Sistema Wisdom from Texas Marching Bands

12-01-2017

Deep in the heart of Texas, football and band are king. The size of our high school stadiums alone could make most colleges across the nation a little jealous. Two-a-days (and sometimes three-a-days) apply to the football team and the marching band alike.

From the Editor

11-01-2017

Our issue this month features collaborative initiatives between programs that are Sistema-inspired or similarly oriented. The U.S. Sistema ecosystem is beginning to see more such collaborations, of varying degrees of formality and longevity. Often, the first impulse toward collaboration comes easily; it’s later that questions can arise. How are decisions made? Do programs need to agree on everything? How much can they diverge and still be part of the joint enterprise?

Aligning for Impact

11-01-2017

There are rooms in which arts education programs fight for airspace. In state assembly rooms, legislators apportion tax revenue to parklands, regulatory agencies, and (if we’re lucky) arts councils. In school principals’ offices, budget committees decide what is core and extracurricular, compulsory and optional. And in kitchens or living rooms, family decision-makers make similar hard decisions for their children.

The Power of Many: Collaborative Research Findings

10-01-2017

The news is in! Three years, twelve sites, 764 3rd- to 5th-graders, a research team from WolfBrown and the Longy School of Music, and hours of collaboration have yielded robust findings – and big questions – for the field of El Sistema-inspired teaching and learning: Here are some of the most significant findings.

Radical Musical Reciprocity

10-01-2017

The theater director Peter Sellars spoke four years ago at the L.A. Phil and Barbican-sponsored “Future Play: Music Systems in the 21st Century.” He called for the democratizing of classical music and music education. “I have to ask the classical music world to respect reciprocity, which is the basis of all human interaction. And not have this one-way flow of ‘all these kids will learn to play Beethoven.’…We have to move into radical structures of reciprocity.”

From the Editor

10-01-2017

The first nationwide research about El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States: are we paying enough attention to this?

We should be paying a lot of attention. Rigorous independent research at 12 sites across the country, with many hundreds of students involved – this is a big deal. It gives us a new way to understand and reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we need to go from here. The researchers themselves are ideal partners; WolfBrown is respected for its meticulous standards and commitment to the arts, and the Longy School of Music is a leader among conservatories in its tenacious emphasis on community-based arts teaching and learning.

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