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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

09-01-2017

In my column last month, I wrote about the 101 young musicians at the iconic modernist Walt Disney Concert Hall in July – the first national Sistema orchestra in the U.S., the Take a Stand Festival Orchestra in Los Angeles. It was a milestone not only for those young musicians but also for the whole U.S. El Sistema-inspired movement.

Colourstrings and Sistema

09-01-2017

In June we traveled to Helsinki, Finland, to work on our teacher certification in the Colourstrings method. Colourstrings is a method based in Kodaly philosophy that was founded by the Hungarian brothers Géza and Csaba Szilvay in 1972, just three years before Maestro Abreu founded El Sistema in Venezuela. The method uses colors for each string, and also picture symbols. It focuses on both the individual and the ensemble, offering individual and group lessons, orchestra, choir, theory, and kinder-music. Students receive music learning every weekday, and advance gradually through a series of skill levels, insuring their healthy development.

Framing “Classical” Music in Racial Equity Contexts

09-01-2017

Calling orchestral or so-called classical music “white music” isn’t a framing that fits comfortably around many folks’ practice. This is particularly true for ALAANA (African, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, Native American) practitioners or those who teach ALAANA students. I get that on a personal level.

Being a Servant and an Artist

08-01-2017

The National Take a Stand Festival has ended, and 101 students are returning home to over 25 states, each with an intimate and personal experience. Here is the experience of just one of those 101.

National Take a Stand Festival & Symposium

08-01-2017

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FROM THE EDITOR

08-01-2017

On Saturday night, July 22, there were 101 young musicians on the stage of the Walt Disney Concert Hall: the first-ever national Sistema orchestra of the United States.

One hundred and one – there is something intensely human about that number. It suggests that the organizers set out to recruit a hundred student musicians – but then there was that one more vivid, luminous youngster they couldn’t leave out.

Helping Teenage Students

07-01-2017

The Youth Apprentice Program grew directly out of a need expressed by high school-aged students at MYCincinnati, an El Sistema-inspired program now entering its seventh year. They wanted to continue playing music at MYCincinnati, but they felt pressure to gain meaningful work experience, support their families, and begin a path toward financial independence. This new program provides meaningful employment, job training, and work experience for current MYCincinnati students.

From the Publisher

07-01-2017

How much should teaching artists in El Sistema-inspired programs be paid?

It’s a fool’s mission to come up with a hard number, because there are too many variables and particularities to factor in. But I can bring some hard-number research to bear on the question.

Partnering With Schools

07-01-2017

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Professional Orchestras & Us

06-01-2017

In 1992 I travelled to Caracas with my colleague Tania Leone, the wonderful Cuban-American composer, to begin plans for an American Composers Orchestra festival of Venezuelan music at Carnegie Hall. Tania knew all about El Sistema and José Antonio Abreu, and of course we paid him a visit. It was inconceivable to me then that the principles of El Sistema could ever take hold in America. But since the movement has in fact arrived, its impact on American orchestras has been profound. El Sistema has been an amazing spark, awakening orchestras to their enormous potential for playing an active role in creating a just society.

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