A short video of four nucleos (MYCincinnati, YOURS Project, Q the Music, COR) performing an excerpt from Brahms Symphony No. 1 at a recent seminario in Dayton, OH, that also included a full day of sectionals, workshops, and games.
About two weeks ago, the Sistema Fellows graduated from NEC. It was a small, intimate ceremony with some family members and lots of friends in attendance.
The ceremony opened with encouraging words and anecdotes related to our class from NEC president Tony Woodcock. Then, each Fellow had the floor for a few minutes. Everyone spoke; some used media; some played music. I bet you can guess my choice.
I did, of course, say a few words before I played my horn. I spoke of the theme of firsts, and the number 1, in my young Sistema life. I had one year with nine amazing fellows. I experienced my first trip to a Latin American country. I taught music lessons with a language barrier for the first time. I'm about to move to Lexington to help start Kentucky's first El Sistema-inspired program.
Following this theme, and furthering my exploration of musical relevance, my short commencement performance was another first: I played bluegrass music on my horn.
Some mornings, beneath the streets of Boston, David France plays his violin for the passers-by who fill the subway corridor. Some stop to listen, while others acknowledge him by dropping money into the empty violin case that lies at his feet.
France uses this money to fund Revolution of Hope, an after-school orchestra he started a few months ago in the disenfranchised community of Roxbury... Continue reading on the NBC website.
Read about David France (Sistema Fellow '12) and his program here.
The El Sistema-inspired field is filled with questions. How could it not be, given its recent and rapid emergence? Our challenge, then, is to find the right questions – the provocative, testing, and ultimately, formative ones.
One of the focal investigations of the Sistema Fellows this year was how to document and measure the effectiveness and impact of El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States; that is, carrying out evaluation and assessment. The terms “assessment” and “evaluation,” while highly related, refer to substantively different things. Assessment measures the student learning that takes place, whereas evaluation measures the quality of the learning experience (or programming).
Our exploration of these topics proved much richer and more robust than we originally expected once we realized how many facets there were to these topics, from both social and musical standpoints. However, three key overarching questions emerged from our process:
For whom do we assess?
What do we assess?
How do we assess?
As a field, we often feel the need to prove our program’s value to those on the outside through our evaluation and assessment results; assessment, however, can and should be just as introspective as outward looking. We advocate using assessment tools and practices for the purpose of determining effective programming and teaching, improving students’ learning and experiences, and ultimately leading to longer-term outcomes and impact. Thorough and intentional assessment has the potential to inform program growth and provide a clear direction for the field.
The other day I went in to teach a first grade violin class and felt quite distracted – bow holds and the D-A-D song were the last things on my mind. I was instead weighted down by a great sadness. So as class began, I asked them to set their violins down and told them I had a favor to request. I described to them my heavy heart and wanted to see if anyone had ever felt the same. Most raised their hands, and we discussed ways that we make ourselves feel better. I shared that really beautiful music has the capability to bring a smile to my face, but that I hadn’t heard any really beautiful, live music recently. Could they help me with this?
Lexington KY – Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras is pleased to announce the creation of the North Limestone MusicWorks, a new El Sistema-inspired program in the North Limestone neighborhood of Lexington, designed in cooperation with the North Limestone Cultural Development Corporation (NoLi CDC). This program will be the first of its kind in Kentucky, and the only El Sistema-inspired program meeting daily between Cincinnati and Atlanta.
The North Limestone MusicWorks will be an intensive musical training program for 20-30 second and third grade students, and will run for two hours per day, five days a week, following the Academic Calendar. CKYO is excited to welcome Rachel Hockenberry to its Artistic Staff, and to the musical community of Lexington, as the program’s founding Director. Rachel is a recent graduate of the Sistema Fellows Program at New England Conservatory, the only El Sistema leadership training program in the world. Ms. Hockenberry will move from Boston, MA to Lexington, KY to administer the program.
The day that Diogo and I performed at the Tamaca nucleo in
Venezuela happened to coincide with the very first rehearsal of their
“initiation orchestra.” The students, ranging from age 7 to 15, had been
playing their instruments for at most two months and for others about fifteen
minutes. There was an air of excitement as the thirty of them sat down to play
together as an ensemble. While it was mainly strings, there was also
a clarinet, flute, recorder, and, arriving fashionably late, a young trumpet
Their first piece, titled “Levántense”, consisted of two notes – open strings A
and D. After a few attempts, they made it to the end of the thirty-second
piece, and I wondered what the conductor would work on. Bow stroke?
Rhythm? Staying together? He lowered his arms. “Take out your pencils
and write a p beneath the first note. Then a shape like this” – he
turned his fingers to form a sideways V – “and in the third measure, an f”. Later
on came a decrescendo that led back into piano. This is what
they focused on for the rest of the rehearsal.
Inspired by this emphasis on dynamics from (literally) day one,
I decided to plan a similar lesson last week at Bridge Charter School in