Eric Booth

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

AIMing Forward: Introducing the Academy for Impact through Music

01-05-2022

The global field of music for social change is committed, smart, resilient, and brimming with talented teachers, administrators, and students—that’s a lot of assets! But it isn’t organized to learn well and get better as a field. Indeed, as I traveled during the past decade to 25 countries to observe good programs in action, I consistently heard that their two greatest challenges were finances and faculty. These problems haven’t been getting better.

Music Endures at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music

12-01-2021

The ANIM campus had long been a target of Taliban terrorism, not only for its musical focus but also for its male/female coeducation and promotion of women. Its visionary founder/leader, Ahmad Sarmast, had once been injured in a terrorist bombing.

In August, the peaceful campus, which included dormitories and a performance space, was taken over almost immediately by the Taliban, who are now using it as an operations center. Since then, we have been holding our collective breath, worrying about the safety of ANIM’s hundreds of students and faculty.

The Ensemble Evolves with Its Community

10-05-2021

The change you will see in the next issue of The Ensemble is another evolutionary step. We’ve realized that this field we are making together is no longer usefully separated by national or continental borders. Practitioners travel across borders; challenges are common across borders; the experiments and discoveries in one place are increasingly relevant and valuable in others. And the solidarity we need to grow in power as a movement is stronger when it’s active across borders.

World Ensemble Day at SEYO

08-04-2021

Twenty-something short videos in an online gallery. They aren’t the finalists for a film festival “short film” competition, or a set of algorithm-selected favorites. They are us, the best of us—short films about innovative solutions that music for social change programs around the world submitted for World Ensemble Day workshops at SEYO (Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra) Summerfest 2021. World Ensemble Day celebrated the proud history and healthy future of innovation to address the challenges and fulfill the high goals of our programs—a fitting presentation for a news hub that exists to connect our field around all kinds of aspirational ideas.

Words Matter, More Than You Think

02-02-2021

If I were King of Arts Education, I’d post an edict banning five words: amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, incredible.

Most music educators use those words a lot, and always with good intent. They want to encourage, celebrate, and motivate their students. The words express the enthusiasm and affection they feel for their students. The King supports all of that. The edict has its eye on the cost of that impulse when it results in hyperbolic acclaim. Cumulatively, the cost is high.

A Letter from the Founders

01-06-2021

Let’s bring in the new year with a quick look back. We launched The Ensemble a decade ago to help strengthen the emerging movement of United States and Canadian programs inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema. Five years later, we realized the global Sistema-inspired movement was developing so fast it required a newsletter of its own, and we started The World Ensemble. We started these newsletters because we wanted you to hear one another’s voices. And we wanted the world to hear all of your voices. It’s a continuing joy to help programs in far-flung places connect with, support, and learn from each other.

U.S. Sistema Programs Respond to Pandemic

04-02-2020

In the U.S., Sistema programs shut down in early March—first one, then a few, and within a week, all of them. As safety issues were clear, there was little energy wasted on resisting the hard choice. All the predictable, wonderful energy that had been building toward culminating projects and special fundraising events was immediately redistributed into three basic concerns: money questions (Can we keep paying staff? Can we raise the money we need in other ways?), event questions (How do we provide a sense of celebration and culmination for the year’s work?), and student learning questions (How do we keep the learning going online?).

Competition, the Sistema Way

02-05-2020

The English travel writer Pico Iyer moved to Japan 27 years ago, and his passionate hobby became playing ping-pong at a nearby club. His pleasure in the game comes from the way competition works there, which is so different from the win-or-lose, zero-sum experience of competition in his native England. He says, “When I leave the ping-pong club after an hour and a half of furious exertion, if you asked me, did I win or lose, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve probably played seven games, but nobody keeps track of who’s winning the games. That stands for what the whole ping-pong club is about, which is the sense that everybody should leave in an equal state of delight. This is because in Japan, at least in the context of a club or a community, the most important thing is for everybody to be working together and feeling and thinking together and linked.” (You can hear an interview with Pico Iyer about his ping-pong experiences here.)

Transition Time: A New Home for The WE

10-02-2019

It’s exhilarating to make something new. Anyone who’s ever started a “music for social change” program, or any kind of new program, or even any work of art or craft, knows that feeling.  For us, starting The World Ensemble in January 2016 (as a companion publication to The Ensemble, which we started in 2011) was exhilarating—it was downright thrilling, in fact—because we knew were creating a medium for communication and exchange for the worldwide Sistema movement. We were creating something needed and helpful where before there had been nothing.

EDITORIAL: The Transformative Power of Big

09-02-2019

I have been lucky enough to attend the last three gatherings of the global Sistema’s biggest events—Side by Side by El Sistema Sweden, Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra, and the YOLA National Festival.  There is no getting around it—these are gigantically complex efforts to design and manage, and they are expensive.

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