March 2022

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

The Superar Effect: Overcoming Boundaries through ‘Music for All’


I came to identify the issue as one of perception. Music should be seen as a tool for building up communities, for connecting people; for creating bonds of empathy and acceptance between them. And then, in late 2016, these thoughts manifested Superar in my life. “Superar” is a Spanish word that means “to overcome boundaries/obstacles.” What a wonderful and strong word, I thought immediately.

Attention, Paid Forward


The idea of attention has gained significant traction in the last few years—in particular, the idea that we might be less able to pay attention in the new landscape within which our lives now unfold. While concern about human attention spans may be as old as black thread, there’s enough scientific evidence and lived experience to believe that the current focus on our perennial struggle to pay attention may be at an all-time high.

Social Justice, Social Curriculum at El Sistema Aeolian


I was already focusing on the usual aspects of music education, like technique, music literacy, music history, and musicianship. It’s easy to fill those columns as musicians; we’re trained to do it. Much harder was encouraging teachers to fill that Social Learning column.

Scenes from Skaramagas Refugee Camp


Skaramagas was a place full of life and laughter, where people living under harsh conditions could still surprise you with generosity and optimism. Compared to many refugee camps, it was quite peaceful; I can’t count how many birthday parties, shared meals, and Arabic teas I attended while I worked there. And yet it was also unstable, an ecosystem of hardships and irritations—inevitable when many people of different cultures are forced to live together in a place they would rather not be. Against this backdrop, our students grew up.

SIMM: An International Research Platform for Music’s Role in Social and Community Work


We came to understand that part of the explanation for the relative lack of research could be found in exaggerated rhetoric and redemptionist discourse about the power of music. In addition, many people seemed to think it was simply not necessary to do research on something that is already considered obvious. (My colleagues and I sometimes encountered such reactions in relation to our own scholarly work.) Fortunately, this has started to change recently, and more research projects are now being undertaken in this field.

Finding Harmony in Chennai and Delhi


In India’s most disadvantaged communities, musicianship is not always encouraged. Domestic violence is not uncommon in some homes; in others, girls are not allowed to sing due to household chores. Some families simply don’t like their children singing. And yet many of these very same communities have produced the members of the NalandaWay Foundation’s Children’s Choir.

ESUSA Announces Call for Submissions for ‘22 Symposium & Seminario


In last month’s Basket, we asked you to save the date for El Sistema USA’s National Symposium and Seminario, happening virtually April 28–30 this year. Since that announcement, ESUSA has begun accepting presentation proposals that address this year’s theme, “Pathways Forward.”

The Ambassadors’ Exchange: Designing Our New Logo


This month, The Ensemble Ambassadors worked together to create a logo that represented the heart and spirit of the program.


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