At the moment I started writing this, there were about 3 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, nearly 1.5 million in Europe alone. Now, here in my home country of Serbia, the situation is settling, and everything is easier. The media is already back to discussing the economy, politics, and showbusiness. No one seems to mention how hard this is for the school system. Students are used to contact with their teachers—eye-to-eye conversations in real classrooms—and now everything is online.
Arts Connect International held its Arts Equity Summit 2020 virtually, during three days in late April. Its mission: serving arts and culture leaders who are committed to collectively building equity, access, and inclusion. Over a thousand people attended the Summit in some way, and now ACI has posted recordings of all the sessions. Here is an overview of the Summit, and here are recordings of keynotes, sessions, and performances. Click here to find out more about ACI.
Go exploring inside Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, use, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, for free, without asking. For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has created platforms and tools to provide easy access to nearly 3 million high resolution 2-D and 3-D digital items from their 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo. This huge data dump is just the beginning; throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will roll out another 200,000 images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting. The Smithsonian collection includes hundreds of items pertaining to music.
Could your Sistema program partner with older people? Lifetime Arts (the nation’s leading organization in training educators to work with aging populations) offers Creative Aging 101, a training mini-course that details how best to engage older adults (55+) in “participatory, professionally run arts programs with a focus on social engagement and skills mastery.” Like many of their resources, the mini-course is free during the pandemic; learn more here.
As young people age and move further away from their primary relationships (parents, teachers, schoolmates), they feel less optimistic about their personal futures. Art becomes a point of contact, an urgent communication, and a hope, according to this article with a multinational view in The Conversation: “After Coronavirus: Global youth reveal that the social value of art has never mattered more.”
With all El Sistema programs considering options for fall activities, given uncertain health regulations, this article from EdSurge may be helpful. It details the four most prominent reopening plans that schools are currently considering.
Dennie Palmer Wolf, Researcher & Writer, WolfBrown, Cambridge, MA
On my COVID-era daily hike, I found myself behind a woman on her cell phone. At first, I resented the noise; then I began to listen. “Hello, this is Ms. F., Leila’s violin teacher. How are you?…How is she? Does she know she has messages from her music class? We are doing song-writing, and she would be so good at it…Yes, I’d love to tell her.” I realized I was hearing a new kind of musical alliance between teachers, students, and families.
Robert Saunders, Music Education Director, Miami Music Project, FL
As learning programs of every kind and in every part of the world find ways to respond to the global health crisis, El Sistema-inspired programs are doing what we encourage our students to do: we are learning from one another. At Miami Music Project, we quickly reached out to El Sistema USA about creating resources for other El Sistema-inspired programs. We were excited to learn that Monique Van Willingh, Director of the Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at Longy School of Music at Bard College, was already working to develop a webinar series with the goal of sharing field experiences and best practices of organizations that are successfully transitioning to digital programming. Since summer camp activities are the immediate concern for many El Sistema-inspired programs around North America, El Sistema USA President Katie Wyatt reached out to several program leaders to begin sharing their experiences and innovations in this area.
Atlanta Music Project held a new first for the El Sistema field in May—a Virtual Symposium for high school music students focused on “The College Years.” Over two days, and with panels of authoritative speakers, the sessions addressed a broad range of issues that music students wonder about. Recordings of the sessions are now available on AMP’s Facebook page (scroll down), and soon all will be available on AMP’s YouTube channel.
Do you know an extraordinary teaching artist, or someone who works with TAs? Nominate them for the Annual ATA Awards through the Association of Teaching Artists. Nominations are accepted through Friday, June 5, in three categories: Innovation in Teaching Artistry, Teaching Artist Ally, or Distinguished Service to the Field. Teaching artists of any artistic discipline are eligible for consideration. There will be an online award ceremony on July 23, streamed in collaboration with Lincoln Center Education. Submit a nomination here.