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El Sistema

  • 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.

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  • Music and the Brain: Dalouge Smith and the SDYS

    Mike Lawson | October 12, 2012

    The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory is the home of an El Sistema-inspired youth orchestra program. Recently, the organization partnered with researchers at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Center for Human Development to begin a landmark study with a goal of measuring and understanding the effects of music education on childhood cognitive development. The study, which goes under the acronym "SIMPHONY" (Studying the Influence Music Performance Has On Neurodevelopment in Youth) joins the expertise of UCSD child cognitive development experts, the NSI's experts on the brain and music, and the SDYS's experience teaching young people music.

    Dalouge Smith is an arts advocate and the San Diego Youth Symphony's president and CEO, a role he has served since 2005. SBO recently spoke with Dalouge about this potentially revolutionary scientific endeavor with the goal of better understanding the project's genesis, methodology, and some of the hypotheses that the people involved are hoping to prove.

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