In partnership with Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM) and the Juneau Symphony (JS), the University of Alaska Southeast proudly announces its one-year Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Music K-12 certification program to reflect the changing role of today’s music teacher. As part of the course requirements, MAT students will conduct their teaching internships at JAMM school sites and music classrooms within the Juneau School District, as well as perform in the Juneau Symphony. This program gives preference to musicians interested in using music for social change.
Through a competitive application process, up to four $10,000 scholarship are available to music majors/minors whose main instrument is violin, viola, cello, or bass. MAT graduates are awarded a Master’s degree in Education with an Alaskan teaching certificate in K-12 Music. Program begins July 26, 2015.
I was recently awarded an Innovation Grant from the Sistema Fellowship Resource Center to observe and document the programs of Arpegio Perú through a three-week residency. Tatjana Merzyn, Sistema Fellow ’14, is the Director of Programs at Arpegio and leads an impressive Sistema-inspired music education initiative serving over 400 Peruvian youth in the Trujillo area. My goal for this residency was to build upon my growing knowledge and personal area of focus on South American Sistema-inspired programs. I had no idea that my experience in Peru would involve such a remarkable level of intercultural exchange on many different levels, making for a surprisingly broad and rich exploration.
Tatjana and Aubree in Trujillo, Peru
Arpegio Perú is a warm and beautiful community. Housed in a building that was at one time the residence of the founders’ parents, the program is made up of a close-knit group of staff, teachers, parents, and students. I was so graciously welcomed by all--from the school’s charismatic founder to the loving parents to the earnest children--there is a special sense of friendship and generosity that has been well cultivated in this school, which reminded me of my former music home, The People’s Music School in Chicago.
As far as program structure, pedagogy, and mission are concerned, Arpegio looks very similar to other South American Sistema-inspired programs. However, what makes Arpegio an innovative organizational model is its unique international volunteer teaching program. Though I had heard quite a bit about Arpegio from my fellow Fellow, Tatjana, I hadn’t realized the implications and immense benefits of the volunteer system she created until seeing it in action in Peru.
On Wednesday afternoon, nine Fellows spent an hour on a conference call with Sistema Fellows Program faculty member Greg Kandel. Two Fellows presented real life strategy challenges for Greg's feedback, and received additional suggestions from their colleagues on the call. This activity is part of a series of professional development workshops provided by the Sistema Fellowship Resource Center.
Elaine Sandoval, Sistema Fellow '13, has helped to launch Sistema Global Research, including a series of podcasts in response to Geoff Baker's recent book criticizing El Sistema in Venezuela. The first podcast, featuring Elaine's interview of Emily Kubitskey, a YOLA wind ensemble director, is now live on the Sistema Global website. Here is an excerpt:
"EK: One of the overall things that Geoff’s book really made me think about was the idea of the orchestral model. And as an educator, I really think on that ground level, very specifically. And it really got me thinking, “Why do we use an orchestral model? Is this the best way to educate our students, is this the best way to prepare them for society?” And I’m not sure I have a yes or no answer. From what we have done at YOLA, it has been incredible. I would never change it, I love the idea of the orchestral model, partially because we have a very, very large and densely populated community. It is a wonderful way to bring in as many students as we can possibly hold, to help give them a fighting chance for their future, whether that’s next week, or for example 5 years later with some of these students. And again, if we were a smaller community or a different type of community, maybe this wouldn’t work as well."
In progress: a music-centered El Sistema-inspired elementary school in Northern Manhattan. Ever since he visited the Conservatory Lab Charter School during his year at NEC, David Gracia (Sistema Fellow '11) has been inspired by the vision of a school with music at its core. That vision may come to life in Washington Heights in 2016.
"David Gracia, founder of the WHIN Music Project, is applying to open a kindergarten through fifth-grade charter school that will offer students two hours of musical instruction each day, as well as integrating music into academic courses such as math.
"He hopes to open the WHIN Music Community School somewhere in District 6 in fall 2016, beginning with kindergarten and first-grade classes, he said at a Community Board 12 meeting Monday night."
When I first heard about the Social Enterprise Conference at the Harvard Business School, I was first curious to know the social enterprise sector, and, to be quite honest, to get a bit educated on what exactly this Social Enterprise thing is about. I wanted to see where my work in Corona and the El Sistema Movement in the US aligns with the idea of Social Enterprise, and to what extent the discourse and issues this sector is currently addressing are relevant to El Sistema. I came to the conference with an open mind, with little expectations. Needless to say, it was great to meet and hear some of the greatest minds in the Social Enterprise world. As in any other conference, the networking piece is always invaluable.
But I felt very encouraged to hear many ideas and even practices that are very familiar to us: The importance of scaling a good social change idea, that education is essential: engaging youth to become leaders, strengthen communities to become self-reliable, youth and children are the most valuable agents of social change, and so on. It was exciting to hear how this relatively old concept of social enterprise is still taking shape in many organizational and legal ways, and how new initiatives start giving shape to new policies.
Broadly, and in my own words, Social Enterprise refers to business ventures (mostly for-profit LLCs) that besides having a profiting goal, also seek to have a positive social impact: A bakery (Greyston Bakery) that employs people that otherwise would be "unemployable" to bake brownies and sell them to Ben and Jerry's, or financing organizations (like MCE Social Capital) that link big banks with successful micro-financing schemes. But among these there are many initiatives that are experimenting with "hybrid" initiatives, that combine a non-for-profit and a for-profit, or running LC3 organizations.
It was great to stick my head out and think a bit outside our El Sistema box. To me it was very enlightening to imagine many new ways an El Sistema program, such as the Corona Youth Music Project, could also replicate many of the programs that we hear about from Venezuela and other countries, by exploring alternate, community-based business models that can support our causes in ways other than a 501(c)3 can. I came back with a few ideas that I am going to start working on soon. Stay tuned!
I also would like to thank the Sistema Fellowship Resource Center for supporting my participation in this conference. I certainly encourage all of the Fellows to try this out next year!
Congratulations to Diogo Pereira, Sistema Fellow '13, founding program director of a new venture in Arizona: Harmony Project Phoenix. According to its new website, "Harmony Project is a research-based multi-year mentoring program for low-income youth that uses music as a means of positive development and social inclusion. Tanner Community Development Corporation is joining forces with Harmony Project to reach out to the families and communities of some remarkable young people in Phoenix."