El Sistema USA

  • Different Platforms, Common Goals

    Mike Lawson | November 23, 2014

    In my own experience initiating and executing an El Sistema program as an afterschool supplement to an already existing school-based music program, I noticed some of the same tensions between even the best of professionals. These sorts of tensions arise very naturally for us. As musicians, we spend hours refining nuances in practice rooms, and then perform for others, waiting for them to find the tiniest imperfection, point it out, and urge us to greater perfection. The university-level experience conditions us to be critical – of ourselves and others – and to pursue perfection.

  • Commentary: El Sistema

    Mike Lawson | May 19, 2014

    Traditional Public Music Education and Innovative El Sistema Programming: Two Platforms that Share a Common Goal

    Over the past five years, since I was introduced to El Sistema and entered the field in the United States, I have continually been asked about the relationship between El Sistema-inspired work and the traditional public school music education systems. There are many elements that make El Sistema programming innovative, including the intense time commitment on the part of the student population, the integration of teaching artists in addition to trained educators, and the tapping of funding from a wide array of sources. Combining those elements with the wonderful work happening in so many school music departments can help further our common goals.

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