September 2021

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

A September 2021 Resource Bulletin


Venezuela’s El Sistema will hold a World Congress of El Sistema on September 28th, 29th, and 30th. The virtual event is designed to foster an exchange of ideas on topics of global relevance for like-spirited programs and projects around the world. The Congress will include discussions, presentations, workshops, and screenings, all with Spanish-English translation. Focal topics will include organizational and pedagogical issues, artistic vision, social impact, research in the field, child and youth protection policies, and fundraising.

Expanding Into College-Level Music Courses for High School Students


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.

Toward Justice


This is a field that can, at times, feel at odds with itself. How can we use orchestral music—a system deeply entrenched in hierarchy, in exclusivity, in elitism, and in a Eurocentric framework—as a means of moving toward equity and social justice? It is difficult to conceptualize the orchestra as a model for equity when there are hierarchal layers—conductor, concertmaster, principals, section players—engrained in the art form.

Browsing the Digital Landscape for New Teaching Practices


While we have watched the country begin to reopen in recent months, the pandemic’s ever-changing impact on the educational landscape has not subsided. Arts education workers have faced unrelenting challenges in this ongoing moment of adaptation and innovation.

As a jazz musician and teaching artist, I experienced this firsthand. And I had no experience in any kind of teaching that didn’t involve music students in a room together. Fortunately, I found three online platforms for jazz education that offer a wealth of good teaching and learning opportunities, and I spent some time this year trying them out with student-colleagues.

Finding the Musical ‘Meeting Point’ Our Students Seek


For the peoples of the Middle East, especially, this is a crucial time to question the hegemony of Western classical music and to reassert their own musical traditions. During the last five years, I’ve been able to observe the way this has played out in the historical regions of the Armenian Highlands and Mesopotamia, where both Armenian and Kurdish musical traditions—two traditions with a common root—are indigenous.

The Life of Jorge Peña Hen, Part II: A Different Kind of Human Being


A young man of only 17, Jorge Peña Hen was already reflecting on serious issues in 1945. In particular, the Composition and Orchestral Conducting student at the National Conservatory of Music in Santiago (Chile) had been influenced by radical new ideas about decolonizing education, and he was taking his new vision to the provinces.

Diversity Corridors: Collaborative Practices for Community in Africa


The survival needs of underserved populations in rural areas and settlements across African cities, where basic sustenance overrides concepts of heritage, identity, and culture, have led many to interrogate the arts’ role in building social foundations for community.

Nevertheless, many community-based instrumental music programs have been founded to preserve those very foundations. Though these programs tend to work in isolation, there is much to be gained from creating corridors among them in Africa.

Centering Culturally Responsive Professional Development in a Year of Unknowns


In a chronically underfunded field where part-time employment is the norm, investing in professional development often feels like a bold aspiration—an item near the bottom of a strategic plan, rather than a lived reality for teaching artists. Carnegie Hall’s PlayUSA is an attempt to address that void.

Emergency Workers Relieve Stress by Making Music


In the U.K. organization Mind’s most recent Blue Light Report, 69% of emergency responders shared that their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic; ambulance staff were the likeliest to say this, at 77%. Additionally, 87% of respondents said not being able to see friends or family during the pandemic has impacted on their mental health, while 69% said that passing coronavirus to their loved ones is a significant worry or concern. Mind also found that emergency workers held strong concerns about burnout and PTSD. Clearly, there is a demand among ES workers for tailored, preventative support that empowers them to seek and receive help.

Ambassadors’ September 2021 Update: 2021-22 Recruitment Period Opens Soon!


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