Editorial: September 2020

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

Editorial: September 2020

Calida Jones, Director of Engagement, The Hartt School; Managing Partner, CNJ Associates


Since March 13, life has changed drastically. Arts institutions and businesses across the country shut down. Schools emptied. Everyone turned to the internet for visibility, accessibility, and relevance.

Suddenly, people who wouldn’t normally worry about their circumstances were experiencing uncertainty, unrest, frustration, and fear. But in our students’ communities, many fared worse. More people became homeless; domestic abuse rose; advocacy for children became intensely difficult.

In many of our programs, I’ve observed a frantic push to be the best virtual learning environment possible. I applaud everyone who has successfully moved to virtual teaching and learning. But we need to remember that many of our families’ basic needs—food, water, electricity, gas, etc.—are threatened.

So if you’re healthy and able, TAKE THE NEXT STEP. Lean in deeper. Push through the discomfort of uncertainty. Go physically—responsibly—into the community and serve freely with your whole heart.
The isolation of the pandemic has been devastating for me. At the same time, the experience has highlighted my privilege to complain while working from home, or to obsess about small things. The moment I stepped outside of myself and focused on others, those feelings disappeared. My mindset shifted to deep and meaningful change.

A friend shared this quote: “Transformative networks do not live within our current framework of understanding.” It’s true. The current social and economic framework requires dismantling if we want to bring about real transformation. I would challenge us to consider these next steps:

  • Radically change our communications approach. Reach out to families to connect about life as well as about music. Create a rapport that can be an example for our students.
  • Challenge donors to rethink their mindset when it comes to giving. Encourage them to expand their idea of excellence to include social learning, and to create openings for students to lead conversations rather than just listen.
  • Expand outside of music. Create opportunities for students to build on other skillsets and to share cultural experiences of their communities.

This massive global plot twist has highlighted what will no longer be acceptable. If we make the choice to work within communities that are historically silenced, we have an immediate responsibility to redefine and redesign the platform. We have no choice. Our children are depending on us.


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