The Fifth Class of Sistema Fellows has written this paper together as a culmination of a year of inquiring, discussing, observing and experiencing. We hope this document will be viewed as our contribution to the ongoing discussion and dialogue around using music for social change, and we see our audience as the leaders and instructors working in the El Sistema-inspired field, as well as those interested in joining the field.
Following research by Elaine Sandoval (Class of 2013), many previous Fellows “express the need to develop pedagogy that is specifically designed for a socially-orientated music education program.” Although we have dedicated a section of this paper to pedagogical practices, we see this paper as more of a general inquiry than a handbook. Our main objective is to promote questioning, reflection and discussion around ensemble-based music programs that are focused on social outcomes.
We have also chosen not to suggest a definition of social change or what it looks like. Instead we offer a selection of mission statements that show how other organizations have defined what social change means to them. These organizations are among those we have had the pleasure to visit during the fellowship. Throughout the paper, we draw on examples of best practice from the many socially driven initiatives we have encountered during the fellowship: Venezuela’s El Sistema, El Sistema-inspired programs, community music schools and arts programs. These programs include many different forms and models, a variety of artistic genres, and international settings. The collection of examples has been selected as experiences that particularly resonated with us, and have not necessarily been evaluated for their effectiveness. Rather than presenting scientific research, we hope to encourage new perspectives and reflection.
Amelia Downs, Ayriole Frost, Beverly Hiong, Eriel Huang, Tatjana Merzyn, Megan Moran, Hana Morford, Ricki Nelson, Aubree Weiley, and Clara Yang (Sistema Fellows, Class of 2014)