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


In this issue, we are taking the unprecedented (for us) step of adding a third page. We decided that a third page was necessary to honor and to mourn Draylen Mason, a young bass player and student leader in the Austin Soundwaves program who was killed last month. We also decided that the Action of the Month should be a symbolic action of mourning by all programs.

Your first thought may well be: “It’s terribly sad, but what does a tragedy in Texas have to do with my program?” For the most part, U.S. programs are in the habit of functioning as non-connected entities. This action requires us to commit to our interconnectedness – to move into symbolic alliance with one another. Can we do it?

I hope so. I feel strongly that as long as we are programs that function independently, within separate local orbits and occupied by always-urgent local concerns, we will be doing considerable good within our particular communities but absolutely nothing to effect change on a regional or national level. We can’t accrue the collective power of a true national movement about music education for social impact unless we reach out, communicate with and identify with one another – and, for that matter, with the many non-Sistema-inspired organizations that also embody music education for social impact.

Until every one of us believes – and more than believes, truly feels – that a violent death in Austin is a loss for our program as well, and that a triumph in Tulsa (see our news section) is our triumph too, we will remain localized and incapable of change on a national level. We will not, despite our our rhetoric, be a movement.

One unusual thing about this particular Action of the Month is that it will involve your students; a white rose on an empty stool in the bass section is not going to go unnoticed. So it will mean talking with your students and their families about Draylen’s death, and that can feel sad and awkward. Fortunately, young people have a great capacity to reach out empathically across distances; just look at the #Enough movement. Many of our students live with the threat of violence in their everyday lives; they are likely to understand viscerally that Draylen’s death is their loss. Let’s listen to them. They have a lot to teach us.


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