The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
Music to Save Humanity is offering a free masterclass series that features renowned artists from all over the world working virtually with young musicians.
“The Next Normal: Arts Innovation and Resilience in a Post-COVID World” is a free day-long set of panels and exchanges offered by the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, on Wednesday, February 10, from 10:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.
Ciera Henderson, Alumni Intern, Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project
During the fall of 2020, I participated in the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project’s (ChiMOP) new Alumni Internship Program (CAIP). CAIP was designed to offer recent ChiMOP graduates hands-on leadership experience during program hours as well as introductory-level job experience behind the scenes—helping staff with everything from lesson planning to administrative tasks. I signed up to gain experience, having never done anything like it before (unless you count trying to teach small groups of little ones while still a student myself). At first, it was a difficult adjustment. I worried that it would be a lot of work that didn’t come naturally to me. But despite some early struggles, I had a good time doing it—especially sharing the experience with the other interns.
Eric Booth, Founder of the ITAC Collaborative, Contributing Editor at The Ensemble News
If I were King of Arts Education, I’d post an edict banning five words: amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, incredible.
Most music educators use those words a lot, and always with good intent. They want to encourage, celebrate, and motivate their students. The words express the enthusiasm and affection they feel for their students. The King supports all of that. The edict has its eye on the cost of that impulse when it results in hyperbolic acclaim. Cumulatively, the cost is high.
Penny Brill, violist, Pittsburgh Symphony; Founder, MUSACOR.com (Musicians as a Community Resource)
During this time of profound disruption, music for social change organizations have the opportunity to explore new possibilities for collaboration with professional orchestras. This is easier for some than others; not every city has both an orchestra and a social change program. The Pittsburgh Symphony, for example, does not have an El Sistema program in the city—but through their Learning and Community Engagement Department, they have collaborated with many local youth programs.
All programs looking to build more equity, anti-racism, and social justice into their curriculum or program practices will want to visit the digital collection of resources at Teaching Tolerance.
This past summer, the evening that Play On Philly (POP) presented its virtual showcase concert happened to mark the ten-year anniversary of our decision to launch the program. As I sat at my laptop watching, I felt sad not to be celebrating that milestone in person with my POP family. But I also felt gratitude as I reflected on how our community has supported each other since the day we started. We have always embraced the El Sistema philosophy and encouraged our students and teachers to reach for levels of learning and engagement we know are possible to achieve.
Youth-Driven Online Music-Making: Channeling innovation through the screen and into the global community
Nema Robinson, senior violist at BSO OrchKids and Peabody Preparatory’s Tuned In; Lowrider James, sophomore tubist at BSO OrchKids and Peabody Preparatory’s Tuned In; Amy Owens, soprano, teaching artist, and Director of Communications at the Collective Conservatory; Nick Skinner, Director of Operations and Strategic Planning at BSO OrchKids; and Daniel Trahey, Cofounder of The Collective Conservatory, Founder of Peabody Preparatory’s Tuned In, and Artistic Liaison for BSO OrchKids
For ensemble music learning programs, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed at first to mean a mandate to compromise music learning, by squeezing and narrowing curriculums to fit into a suddenly two-dimensional space. As time went on, however, the field blossomed with creative initiatives. For our programs, the crisis was a call to action not only to channel innovation through a screen, but also to blow it open into a far-reaching, multi-dimensional, and globally expansive experience. The key? Collaboration—the kind that stretches to every corner of the globe the Internet can touch.
Libby O’Neil, Co-Founder and Executive Director, East Lake Expression Engine
East Lake Expression Engine (ELEE), which began in 2014, serves the East Lake neighborhood of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We usually serve 75 to 100 kids each semester. Our program meets in a church that is conveniently located between the elementary and middle schools that serve our neighborhood. East Lake is wonderfully walkable; our staff members walk to the elementary school to pick up our students there, and our middle and high school students walk to us. Several of our staff members live in the neighborhood. This has long provided us with daily opportunities for casual, neighborly relationships with our students’ families. During 2020, that proximity has been invaluable.
The National Association of Music Merchants cannot host its gigantic annual national conference this year because of the pandemic, so they offer an online Believe in Music Week—a free global gathering during the week of January 18, to connect and support people who bring music to the world. Superstar speakers you know will be announced soon. Registration is free and open to all. Find out what the online conference offers here and register here.