April 2018

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


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.

From the Editors


On March 24th, as I worked on putting this issue together, I listened to a live stream of the rally in Washington, D.C. I heard young person after young person speaking truth to power about their lived experiences of gun violence. And another voice was suddenly present in my head, more seasoned but still resonating with the urgent aspiration of the young people’s voices. “Put a violin in the hands of a child,” said that voice, “and the child will not pick up a gun.”

Student Empowerment in Music Learning


Students as leaders. Increasingly, teaching artists in U.S. Sistema-inspired programs have been thinking about this important idea.

In February, a group of music teaching artists and program directors came together for a PlayUSA workshop on “Empowering Students to Lead.” PlayUSA is an initiative of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute that supports quality instrumental instruction reaching young musicians in local communities across the country. The workshop brought together faculty from 13 PlayUSA grantee organizations, including Sistema programs and other instrumental music education organizations, to focus on student agency in musical learning.


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