The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.
News & Resources
One of the few silver linings of this ongoing pandemic has been a collective recommitment to global connection. If we’re all learning in the same place—the Internet—why not share and interact with people across the world? The Teachers’ Guide to Global, Collaborative Teaching and Learning—published by iEARN-USA (the international Education and Resource Network) with support from the Longview Foundation—has compiled a list of these many opportunities for connection, for students and arts practitioners alike. Cultural exchange programs, camps, conversations, and opportunities for collective action abound, so share this far and wide. No matter how specific your collaborative vision, this list has you covered.
Teachers from Sistema-inspired programs in England have shared their best tips and tools for teaching, learned over the course of their careers.
From August to December 2020, the Teaching Artistry with Courtney J. Boddie podcast and Creative Generation collaborated with 22 inspiring artists, educators, and community activists—21 of whom are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)—through the We Can’t Go Back video series.
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.
The fifth annual El Sistema Academy will happen online on January 30 and 31 and is free to all. El Sistema educators and colleagues across the globe will convene to discuss this year’s theme, “Motivation”—motivating students, teams, audiences, and more. Registration closes on January 27. Use this Google Form to register for this year’s session, and learn more about last year’s Academy in this 2019 World Ensemble post.
The Abreu Chamber Choir (ACC) is a vocal group formed by young Venezuelan singers who grew up in El Sistema programs but are currently residing in several countries in Europe. The group was founded because of a desire to return to making music with colleagues and friends. We have organized a number of concerts, collaborative learning days, and training workshops for young singers and conductors, continuing the legacy and visionary teachings of Maestro José Antonio Abreu.
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.
Verenice Velazquez, Program Participant, Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy
“Hey, Verenice! We are taking a bus with Linda to Sonora—we’d like you to join us with your fiddle.” I was in my third year at UC San Diego when Eugene Rodriguez, Founder and Director of Los Cenzontles, called me with an invitation to take a very special trip. Just a few months later, I was on a bus to Sonora, Mexico with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, several Cenzontles, and many more family and friends, embarking on a musical journey that was filmed to create Linda and the Mockingbirds.
Chris Bishop, Director of Music, Morris Isaacson Centre for Music, Soweto, South Africa
The Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto, South Africa provides music education to almost 300 students. Driving human development through music, we hold Early Childhood Development classes at local partner institutions, and also provide a comprehensive on-site program of music tuition through individual lessons, ensembles, music theory classes, and choirs to develop musicianship.
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.