June 2021

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

Share Your Cleverest Program Design to Be Featured at SEYO SummerFest 2021

06-02-2021

The SEYO 2021 SummerFest is happening this July and will feature a World Ensemble Day on July 22. We will explore some of the coolest, cleverest, most unusual and interesting projects or practices of Sistema-inspired programs around the world. Are you particularly proud of something your program does which others likely don’t do? It could be anything—a surprising and effective way that you present music, raise funds, engage students, inspire teachers, or make connections. Who knows what clever ideas are working out there?

Let us know, so we can share your work at this global conference! It doesn’t need to be a big feature—it could be a musical warmup you’ve invented, or something you do at rehearsals, or a way you communicate with parents.

The UKUSA Arts Programme: Four Decades of Transformation in South Africa

06-02-2021

As in many countries the world over, the immediate future of music education in South Africa is uncertain. Funding priorities are moving away from the arts, a universal problem brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa exemplifies this dilemma. It is a nation of diverse people, cultural practices, and musical traditions, with a rich history of community music-making. But its economic disparities have made formal music education almost inaccessible beyond private education or community arts projects and programs; it needs new approaches to teaching, learning, and sharing that properly acknowledge and utilize this diversity. Fortunately, there are some precedents for such new approaches—prominent among them, the UKUSA Arts Programme, previously housed at the University of Natal (UN).

Mitrovica Rock School: The Art of Listening and Responding

06-02-2021

Mitrovica, a miner’s town in Northern Kosovo, has been called Europe’s most divided city. Since the end of the Kosovo War in 1999, the river that runs through the city has become a de facto border between the minority Serb community in the North and the majority Albanian community in the South.

Treasures within a UNESCO Report

06-02-2021

I earned my M.A. degree in educational policy studies from the Institute of Education, University of London (now University College London) a quarter-century ago. In the same year, a seminal report called Learning: The Treasure Within (the Delors Report) was published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), where I started my United Nations career two years later. This is one of many texts that have made a huge impact on my life; it is always a source of inspiration when it comes to education and learning. Although the Report has been influential among educators, I’ve come to recognize that it is not well known in the sphere of music education, let alone the art and music world in general.

Looking beyond Music: Empowering Students to Ignite Change at Project 440

06-02-2021

The first note an audience hears at any symphonic concert comes in at 440 Hz—the pitch A. Typically, the oboe plays this first pitch, followed by the rest of the orchestra as the tuning routine begins. Whether performing Bach concerto or Vivaldi suite, they will perform in tune, thanks to that first tuning pitch.

Venezuelan Musicians in Crisis Recreate Musical Identity across the World

06-02-2021

Across the world, members of the music for social change movement hold a special connection to Venezuela, and many feel great concern for the astoundingly difficult circumstances its people have faced in recent years. The ongoing crisis remains massively under-reported in the media and under-funded by the global community. Brookings Institution calls this “the largest and most under-funded refugee crisis in modern history”; Venezuela is on track to overtake Syria as the country with the most displaced people, with 5.4 million and counting. Meanwhile, the international community has committed significantly less funding to Venezuelans. Four years into the Syrian crisis, $7.4 billion in international aid ($1,500 per refugee) had been amassed, while at a similar point in Venezuela’s crisis, only $580 million has been spent ($125 per person).

The WE Ambassadors’ Week of Workshops 2021

06-02-2021

I am honored to be a part of this year’s World Ensemble Ambassadors, a talented bunch of youth musicians from nine countries around the world. As much as I love sharing stories with them and writing about our respective programs, I also look forward to growing in my artistry through the mentorship that we receive as Ambassadors.

The Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composer Apprentice Project

06-01-2021

In 1983, just a few years out of music conservatory, my husband Robert Bonfiglio and I embarked on a vacation to the American Southwest. We started our trip at the Grand Canyon, with our instruments in our backpacks, a rim-to-rim-to-rim four-day hike through the canyon. The first evening, with my aching feet soaking in the cold waters of the Colorado River, I took out my flute and played. The following morning, we packed up and headed up the floor of the canyon to Cottonwood campground, where I found a washed-out tree trunk to rest under and again played my flute. A park ranger followed the sound of the flute and, when he found us, invited us to the ranger’s hut that evening to play a concert.

Reflections on Our Shared Lineage

06-01-2021

In October of 2008, sitting alongside Maestro José Antonio Abreu, I experienced a moment of clarity. We were visiting the state of Trujillo in the far-northwest corner of Venezuela, where the state’s six major núcleos had formed a special orchestra to put on a command performance for the Maestro. A group 200 strong, all between 10–25 years old. A breathtaking interpretation of the first movement of Mahler’s First Symphony ensued, the type of concert I had experienced so many times with awe. But then Maestro Abreu addressed the orchestra. He set out his vision for each of their lives, full of contribution, artistry, and joy. At one point he asked, “Who of you wants to be a teacher?” Every hand shot up; every face was shining. My first thought was: “What a beautiful tribute to the community of educators nurturing these young people.” I came away with the profound understanding that teaching was at the core of it all.

Tracking SEL Growth in Students with the Light My Music Fire Workshops

06-01-2021

Earlier this year, Dan Trahey and Pete Tashjian of The Collective Conservatory were invited by the Harmony Program to facilitate an eight-week Saturday-morning creativity workshop with students from multiple Harmony Program sites across New York City. The partnership was a natural fit. The Collective Conservatory’s work is rooted in creating environments that allow for personal expression, group problem-solving, self-esteem building through promoting individual assets, self-awareness, and increased musical skill sets. The Harmony Program, which provides after-school music education programs in underserved NYC communities, has long prioritized the development of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. As a natural extension of The Collective Conservatory’s programming, the workshop emphasized SEL to create a framework and pathway to concretely study creativity.

 

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