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


The first nationwide research about El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States: are we paying enough attention to this?

We should be paying a lot of attention. Rigorous independent research at 12 sites across the country, with many hundreds of students involved – this is a big deal. It gives us a new way to understand and reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we need to go from here. The researchers themselves are ideal partners; WolfBrown is respected for its meticulous standards and commitment to the arts, and the Longy School of Music is a leader among conservatories in its tenacious emphasis on community-based arts teaching and learning.

Our lead article describes some of the major findings of the study and some of the questions they raise. There’s reason for optimism here, and grist for reflection. But what I want to focus on is the set of measures developed and honed in the course of the study. Click on the link in the article, and you’ll have this toolkit. They’re yours. They’re ours. And they give us the capacity to evaluate ourselves not only program by program but also as a national field, a country-wide movement.

If every Sistema program in the U.S. adopted and implemented these measures, we would have a vast trove of information about our collective impact We would know what our strongest achievements are, and could make the case for Sistema-inspired programs with a clarity and force we’ve never been capable of before. We would know what our weaknesses are, and could address those as a field rather than in scattershot isolation.

I understand that as individual programs, each of us wants to measure ourselves against the goals most relevant to our kids and communities. But I strongly feel that along with such evaluation efforts, programs should adopt these common measures. As long as we keep measuring ourselves separately, fundraising separately, and advocating separately, we will keep ourselves powerless on a national level. In effect, we’re saying: we fervently want our program for our community, but when it comes to arts education and social justice as matters of national policy…we just don’t have time.

So please, click on that link. It’s a step toward national potency.


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