This past week I conducted my
fieldwork/residency at The YOURS (Youth Orchestras United Rita Sima) Project in
Chicago, an El Sistema-inspired program supported by the People’s Music School.
Former Sistema Fellow and Program Director, Albert
Oppenheimer, has been absolutely wonderful at showing me around The
YOURS Project and the great El Sistema-inspired values that they actively apply
with their students, community and parents.
While at The YOURS Project, I was able to observe the YOURS String Orchestra sectional with intern teaching artist Annarita, from Loyola, preparing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins. I remember being the same age as these YOURS musicians playing this piece and loving it! Good music is good music!
AHA moment #1:
During my observations, Annarita asked the ensemble if they wanted to rehearse the piece regardless of some soloists being absent. With soloists missing, several string players were eager and excited to play this piece, and energetically volunteered to play the solo part. Instantly, seating order was rearranged, friends shared music and the piece began! YOURS students filled in where necessary, sight-reading solo parts and playing through this brilliant piece!
These students loved this piece and more importantly loved playing together because they stepped in where necessary for the sake of the whole group. For them, it was about the music, creating something beautiful that they could all enjoy and be a part of something together! The YOURS project is not only developing great musical excellence, but also supporting and nurturing flexible and well rounded musicians who are actively challenged as both orchestra members and soloists.
Reflecting on my own musical experience as a junior high school student, I was never in a group where the orchestra members were valued as soloists. The flexibility of everyone being both a soloist and orchestra member was not fostered at the early stages of my musical education. But to witness the depth and significance of these YOURS string players being so versatile was inspirational. These “fill-in” musicians were supported and encouraged to take a shot at being a soloist. It did not matter if the playing was perfect. These musicians were united playing Vivaldi because it’s beautiful and good music, but more importantly, they were having fun! Continue reading on Albert Oppenheimer's blog.
Sistema Fellow '13