From the Editor

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

From the Editor

Tricia Tunstall


Do you think of yourself as a teaching artist? Many teachers in the global Sistema use that term to describe what they do. Sometimes, though, there can be a lack of clarity about what it means – and a lack of awareness that there is, in fact, a powerful and growing global movement for Teaching Artistry, just as there is for El Sistema.

That global teaching artist movement was out in full force in New York last month, when Carnegie Hall hosted the 4th International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC4), with 305 delegates from 28 countries. I was at the conference both to present – I co-led a session on El Sistema, with Jeehye Suh of Korea and Aristides Rivas of Venezuela – and to learn more about what teaching artistry looks like and aspires to, around the world.

For years now, I have been thinking about these two kindred global movements, trying to understand exactly where and how they intersect. Being at ITAC4 helped me understand that the intersection is vast.

Just look at ITAC4’s official theme: THE ARTIST AS INSTIGATOR: The Role, Responsibility and Impact of Artists in Global Communities. The conference was brimming with teaching artists of many genres and contexts, but all shared a common goal: to instigate social change through activating the artistry of the people and communities they work with. Does that sound familiar?

ITAC4 also convinced me that the practices and inquiries of teaching artistry are crucial tools for all teachers in the El Sistema world. T.A.s are at the frontier of discovery around active, engaged arts learning. In almost every conference session, presenters were constantly and expertly tugging us into creative action and interaction. One conference room was devoted to creating a huge ITAC flag, with attendees bringing small pieces of cloth that represented something about their programs and sewing them all together. This new ITAC “flag” will travel the world for the next two years, with T.A.s adding to it at every stop, and will land in Seoul, Korea in 2020 for ITAC5.

Are you an “artist as instigator” – or do you aspire to be? Then you’re a teaching artist. Find out more about teaching artistry herehere, and here. The more we can align our global movements, the more formidable our instigations will be.


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