Guest Perspective

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

Guest Perspective

Liam Barnstead, student, Soundscapes; Brayden Hamilton, student, OrchKids


Two students who attended the El Sistema Seminario 2020, in Durham, NC last month, share their experiences at this super-gathering of student musicians from across North Carolina and the Southeast.

Please describe the Seminario.

Liam: It was a collaboration of multiple El Sistema programs, where students had the opportunity to meet and learn about other students and do music-based activities with them.

Brayden: We had a chance to interact with people all over the East Coast and share moments involving music. During the weekend, we worked on a collective creative composition and an orchestral piece called “Hear Her Song” by Katy Pfaffl.

What were your first impressions?

Brayden: I was open-minded and interested in how everything we were doing was going to turn out. Getting ideas for the composition activity was the easy part. The more stressful part was organizing the ideas, making sure everyone was on the same page.

Liam: At first, I was tired from traveling. Once I rested, I got to enjoy rehearsing. I also found the composition activity interesting because I don’t get to create a lot of music; I usually play what is assigned.

What were the activities on the second day?

Liam: I spent time rehearsing with my Soundscapes chamber group. Then everyone joined together again for collective composition, which I enjoyed more, now that I understood more about the process.

Brayden: This was when the younger kids came in, and we had to teach them all the material we had created the day before. I learned so many things about being a better leader towards my peers and even kids younger than me.

How would you summarize your experience?

Brayden: It was exciting to see everything come together. I was glad that everything turned out great and that I built lifelong friendships with kids from other programs. There were lots of great things going on that I have never experienced before!

Liam: By the end of the seminario, I felt like I had accomplished some musical and personal goals, such as learning to improvise. I think everyone had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to do it again!


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