News & Resources
The Ambassadors’ Exchange: Introducing Your New Ambassadors Program Manager!
Hello, everybody! My name is Pedro Ramos, and I am The Ensemble’s new Ambassadors Program Manager. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and my parents are from Honduras and El Salvador in Central America. I am currently finishing my degree in Instrumental Music Education at California State University, Long Beach with a focus on French Horn. In addition to working as a second-year general elementary music teacher at Glendale Montessori School, I frequently coach the marching arts at multiple organizations across Southern California. When I am not doing music, I like to organize in my community of South L.A., dance, and spend quality time with friends and family.
My musical career started in the second grade when my parents enrolled me in The Harmony Project, an El Sistema-inspired program in Los Angeles that believes in music’s power to provide growth, connection, community, and access to higher education. During my time there, I had opportunities to perform at multiple music festivals across the country, perform in multiple venues, including Walt Disney Concert Hall, and play in multiple ensembles, including jazz and salsa bands. However, my most transformative experience at Harmony Project was participating in their mentorship program. As a mentor, I had the responsibility of helping students, or mentees, make progress on their instruments, even preparing them for a mentor-mentee recital. Mentors also had the responsibility of meeting with other mentors and staff to discuss teaching strategies that might be implemented in lessons. I believe it was my experience as a mentor that solidified my love and passion for music education. More specifically, being a mentor taught me the El Sistema value of appreciating students as community leaders.
My time at the Harmony Project opened me to the opportunity of being an Ensemble Ambassador (when it was still The World Ensemble—I go back!). I spent two years as an Ambassador under the leadership of Axelle Miel, the previous Cohort Leader and a great friend. While we spent plenty of time reflecting on our different music programs, I most appreciated Axelle’s ability to help us feel comfortable sharing our lives outside of music. One of my fondest memories was bonding over the fact that many of us had rocks in our showers, to the bewilderment of our European Ambassadors. I also think back to an improvisation circle we all participated in—our ambassador from Kenya’s Ghetto Classics absolutely shredded a jazz violin solo. Moments like these encouraged me to speak out about my own community at the Harmony Project.
Although some former Ambassadors have gone on to live their lives, I’ve stayed in touch with many from our group, and we’ve always flirted with the idea of visiting each other one day. In time, I hope to foster this level of candor among my new cohort, just as Axelle did.
As a teacher, I find immense value in drawing from my students’ deep wells of knowledge in order to break the teacher-student power paradigm. As the new Program Manager, I will continue valuing my fellow Ambassadors as leaders and experts in their programs and cultures. I want to apply this philosophy—which I might add is very El Sistema—to nurture honest conversations that move the field forward. That means fun projects, new art, true camaraderie, and shared reflection—however that looks for each Ambassador.
To my fellow cohort members, I want to start off my tenure by welcoming you to a safe space where you are valued and loved. Here’s to a new year!