Laura Patterson

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

Expanding Into College-Level Music Courses for High School Students

09-07-2021

Teaching music theory is tricky. College-level music theory courses tend to focus exclusively on either Western European classical conventions or on jazz. Rarely are these two models taught side by side, as they use different vocabularies to describe musical phenomena. Both models have their advantages, but both are limited. Make Music NOLA has been working for years to develop a curriculum that teaches both side by side.

For Young Music Organizations, Community Work Matters More

07-06-2021

The first concert that Make Music NOLA ever played was the opening of a community garden. Back then, the organization was still named the Youth Orchestra of the Lower 9th Ward—a group of young musicians with less than a year on their instruments, putting on an unpolished performance of “Saints Go Marching In” for the community. The experience was critical for these students; performing alongside Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, they felt a lasting current of community support and encouragement. Most of those students continued to play their instruments for years, and many went on to learn a brass instrument and join the marching band at Martin Luther King Elementary.

Continuing to Make Music, One Virtual Video at a Time

10-06-2020

Like programs all over the country, Make Music NOLA (MMN) was forced in March 2020 to quickly reinvent our programs for virtual learning. For our after-school students, we created weekly video lessons designed to take the place of their music theory, chamber ensemble, and fiddle classes. But these videos weren’t workable for the 100 students we reach through in-school programming—who attend several different charter schools, were doing remote learning through different systems, and, because of the abruptness of school closures, didn’t even have instruments at home.

Jazzing Up Sistema Relevance

05-01-2018

To many classically trained musicians, the El Sistema program model of learning in group classes and ensembles is very different from how we learned. However, the development of technique and discipline, and the understanding of music that comes with classical training, are just as important for playing in other genres. Classical training provides a foundation that can be used for learning any style of music. The notes, rhythms, and instrumental techniques are the same in classical music as they are in jazz. Professional brass bands may play the same notes and rhythms to Liza Jane as our students would, but in a different key, with open sections for improvisation and with a different sound.

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