Teaching & Learning

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

“I Can and I Will”: Making Beautiful Music at Open Air School

03-03-2021

The Open Air School in Durban, South Africa is a long-standing institution offering education to learners who have physical impairments, from pre-primary through grade 12. Their motto, “I can and I will,” is how I have come to know each child I meet at the school. Nothing is beyond their reach or capability.

NYC Composition Program Offers Mentorship from Professionally Trained Composers

03-02-2021

Opportunity Music Project in New York City has announced the launch of their new Composition Program.

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.

Words Matter, More Than You Think

02-02-2021

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.

An Interview with Dream Orchestra Founder/Director Ron Davis Álvarez

01-06-2021

Last month, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music recognized Dream Orchestra Director (and El Sistema Sweden Artistic Director) Ron Davis Álvarez with the Göran Lagervall Pedagogy Prize for “his activities in 40 cultural schools, where he renewed the pedagogical orchestral tradition with his experience from Venezuela.” Just days later, Álvarez conducted a performance for the Global Teacher Prize Award Gala, hosted digitally this year. A former candidate for the Global Teacher Prize himself, Álvarez conducted 70 students from ten countries in a performance of Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave.” Afterward, Álvarez was kind enough to sit down with The World Ensemble to discuss his busy week, his experiences with the Dream Orchestra, and his pedagogical philosophy.

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.

New Reports from LEGO Foundation Champion Acts of Play in Young Learning

01-05-2021

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.

Carnegie Hall Offers Free Workshop for Young Songwriters

12-16-2020

You probably have several secret (or not-so-secret) young songwriters in your program—pass this resource along to them. Carnegie Hall has posted a five-part workshop on “How to Write a Song,” led by songwriter and performer Bridget Barkan. The series explores the power of songs and provides a step-by-step approach to crafting a song that expresses ideas and emotions; finding inspiration; writing a chorus, verse, and bridge; and making sure that the song has the communicative power of personal voice.

ArtsEdSearch and Khan Academy Offer Free Resource Libraries for the Arts Education Community

12-16-2020

Are you sometimes looking for solid research to back up your claims about your program’s value? ArtsEdSearch is the largest online clearinghouse for reliable arts education research to support practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in the U.S. This searchable database (sort by age level, arts discipline, kinds of providers, and more) now holds over 300 studies gathered over eight years by the Arts Education Partnership. Many of the studies address relevant issues such as social and emotional learningschool engagement, and civic and community engagement.

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