The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
The YOLA National Festival has opened its audition portal for its July 2021 orchestral training program. Open to students from all Sistema-inspired programs; students ages 12–18 are encouraged to apply for one of the two ensembles, the Symphony Orchestra (ages 14–18) or the Chamber Orchestra (ages 12–14). The intensive experience is tentatively scheduled to take place in person in Southern California, but an official update on in-person vs. virtual programming options will be shared no later than April 1. Applications are due March 1 and recommendation letters are due March 8.
Sphinx Opens Calls for Sphinx Performance Academy and the SphinxConnect 2021 Conference—deadline Feb. 9
Sphinx is accepting applications for the Sphinx Performance Academy, a “full-scholarship intensive summer chamber music and solo performance program with a focus on cultural diversity.” In collaboration with the Curtis Institute of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School, the program is offered to string musicians ages 11–17. Participating students will have a chance to learn from active and celebrated chamber musicians and university faculty from across the country. Applications are due February 9, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Vocal Justice, a culturally affirming public speaking program, will welcome its first cohort of high school educators in January 2021 as part of its Vocal Justice Teaching Fellowship, designed to empower Black and Brown high school students to become leaders in their communities. Between February and May 2021, selected Fellows will facilitate weekly virtual one-hour workshops with a consistent group of students, teaching them how to communicate authentically and persuasively about social justice issues. Applications are due by Friday, January 8 at 3 p.m. PST, and there is a paid stipend for participation if selected.
With the holiday season coming to a close, enjoy these highlights from the San Diego Youth Symphony, who put together a virtual presentation of Ravel’s Bolero and excerpts from Dvořák’s New World Symphony. They used the platform Smart Music to practice recording and collaboration with their peers; check out the final product here.
The Creative Youth & Community Development research initiative, commissioned by ArtPlace America and led by Creative Generation, investigates the intersections of arts and culture, community development, and youth development. The initiative produced a series of web-based tools and resources created by and for practitioners that live on the ArtPlace America website. “Centering Creating Youth in Community Development: A Creative Placemaking Field Scan,” addressed this question: What impact do creative youth have on communities? Their answers offer sets of findings: community benefits defined by young creatives, opportunities for partnering to expand the reach of projects, and defining success in new ways. Read more here.
What are U.S. parents most worried about regarding their children’s health? Two surprises in a new poll—it differs among different racial groups, and it isn’t COVID. Latinx and white parents are most concerned about their kids’ use of social media—both the amount of time spent and the danger of bullying. Black parents are most concerned about racism and COVID. See what the parents of your students may be most worried about.
Video recordings are still available from Harvard’s annual Initiative for Learning and Teaching Conference, covering the themes of equitable instruction and inclusive classrooms. Speakers cover an array of difficult questions ranging from facilitating “difficult or charged” conversations to “adaptive pedagogies” during challenging times. These concepts can easily be applied to music classrooms as programs seek to embed more equitable practices into their curricula and program designs. Also offered is a comprehensive list of resources for educators for reference during the presentations. View the recordings here.
The LEGO Foundation is publishing a series of reports that gather a broad spectrum of viewpoints on creativity in learning. Their most recent report is “Creating Creators.” The LEGO Foundation describes its goal: “to build a future in which learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners.” These goals encounter arguments that are familiar to teachers in the arts—that the arts are “nice but not necessary.” LEGO takes a holistic view that highlights the ways in which children’s physical, social, cognitive, creative, and emotional skills complement and interact with one another through play. Read the full report here.
The New Jersey Symphony has a set of useful instructional videos that offer “pro tips” for the young, budding musician. Share this with your teaching artists and students for extra practice fun during the holiday break!
Assal Habibi, Principal Investigator, Brain and Music Program, Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles; Beatriz Ilari, Department Chair, Music Teaching and Learning, USC
The past two decades of psychological and neuroscientific research on music have provided robust evidence that learning to play music can support brain maturation and the development of cognitive and social skills in children and adolescents. Learning an instrument requires long hours of practice, focused attention, memory, and discipline; mastering one involves the continuous capacity to improve motor, auditory, and executive skills, and is likely to influence the differential development, maintenance, and function of certain brain structures and systems.