Interning Into Leadership

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

Interning Into Leadership

Sharniece Adams, Lead Site Coordinator at Lockerman-Bundy, OrchKids, Baltimore


At the age of ten, I was chosen to be part of Tuned In, an El Sistema program at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. During my eight years there, Dan Trahey, the director, gave the students opportunities to intern with other programs. As a middle school student, I was able to choose between going to band camp and interning at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Orchkids program. I loved Orchkids in particular, so I chose that program, and started my first summer internship there in eighth grade. Orchkids was also an El Sistema program, so it felt like home. The students were like me; we faced the same problems and challenges, we had the same interests, and we all just wanted to play music. I interned at Orchkids every summer through high school, and I learned so much not only about music but also about administration, skills I could use in the real world.

Interning at Orchkids was the best choice I ever made. In 2014, I graduated from high school and attended community college. In 2015, a position opened up at Orchkids. This was great news! I went for an interview, and have been a program assistant at Orchkids for the past three years. Recently, I became Site Coordinator of an Orchkids site. Being a part of Orchkids at an early age helped with this whole process.

I believe there are many other young students waiting to become leaders in our El Sistema programs. Students should be given a chance to intern at a young age, and should constantly have mentorship opportunities in place. Programs should have intern opportunities available for outside students as well. Students should be given a variety of internship possibilities and be able make the choice themselves.

We should train our students to become not only musicians but also leaders. Don’t let any student miss out on an opportunity – you may miss your next leader! And maybe the last person you thought would be interested will become the next leader of an El Sistema program.

[Editor’s note: To our knowledge, Ms. Adams is the first student in a U.S. El Sistema-inspired program to grow into fulltime program leadership.]


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