Program Design

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

Arts and Disabilities: Service-Learning in Trinidad and Tobago

02-03-2021

The first service-learning course I taught at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) was a Residency in Community Arts. I chose to partner with the Consortium of Disabilities Organization (CODO) to offer my students a mentored residency working with students with disabilities. As I don’t have a background in special education, I decided to collaborate with a colleague from the University of the West Indies, music therapist Jean Raabe, to run an intensive workshop before the semester and join me in mentoring students on the project.

Bringing Jazz into the Mix in Orquestra Geração, Sistema Portugal

02-03-2021

The slogan of Orquestra Geração suggests something deeper than just playing music. The idea of touching lives (in Portuguese, “tocamos” means “we play/we touch”) asserts that we can positively transform the lives of children and young people through music, giving them a feeling of unlimited potential. What I didn’t know before teaching in this program was that the slogan would apply to me as well, and that my life would be so intensely touched and transformed.

Making Time for the Milestones

01-05-2021

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

01-05-2021

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.

Codi’r To: El Sistema in Wales, and in Welsh

12-02-2020

Codi’r To (Welsh for “raising the roof”) is a Welsh-language community project that delivers the world-renowned El Sistema program in areas of multiple deprivation in North Wales. Specifically, we seek to tackle disadvantage and educational underachievement in two communities of multiple deprivation. We hope to provide inspiration and transformation for children, families, schools, and communities, changing lives for the better through music.

Lullaby International

12-02-2020

Through Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, families work side by side with professional musicians to create and sing personal lullabies for their children. Parents create songs that are uniquely theirs, that reflect who they are as parents and what they hope to communicate or pass on to their children. Families often express the joys, fears, and stresses of parenting, but most of all, they share their hopes, dreams, and love for their children. Each lullaby is a gift, a reflection of parent creativity, love for our youngest ones, and our basic human need for meaningful connection.

Stay the Course, or Innovate?

12-01-2020

We are all seeking a path forward. We are all managing COVID-19 closures. And we are doing all of this alongside an upsurge of social and political unrest. We are struggling mightily and wondering what to do next. This moment of uncertainty is like no other, and as we try to understand the future role of our work, we wonder: should we continue business as usual? Or should we innovate now, and hope that we find the right recipe for future success?

The International School of Music, Languages and Polytechnic Studies: A Longtime Dream Becomes Reality

11-12-2020

Music can unite the world, produce unity and harmony in the community, and offer social and financial assurance. Having grown up humbly myself, I began dreaming in 2011 of starting an academic institution and cultural center for the young generation in my home area of Masaka, Uganda. That dream became the International School of Music, Languages and Polytechnic Studies (IMLS), located in the city of Masaka, near Lake Victoria.

El Sistema Venezuela: Academic Strategies in Times of Confinement

11-04-2020

As the new school year takes off, we think it is a good moment to reach out to our friends in Sistema-inspired projects around the world, to share our experiences in teaching and caring for our kids throughout the months of quarantine.

The Toki School of Music: A Living Legacy in Rapa Nui

11-04-2020

Rapa Nui, the most isolated inhabited place on earth, is the birthplace of the Rapanui people, who call their island “the navel of the world.” With deep, ancient roots, the island attempts to balance its past—including difficult recent memories of colonization in the 1860s—with its prosperous growth in the Western context. In this unique setting, music has played a pivotal role in building collaboration and coexistence between multiple cultures and lifestyles. In my opinion, no organization has embodied that balance more than the Toki School of Music, which celebrates its people’s authenticity in an increasingly modern world.

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