Born and raised in San Jose, California, Elaine Chang Sandoval began studying the flute and piano from a young age. She had particularly transformative experiences playing in school ensembles and the San Jose Youth Symphony, and later conducting orchestras as an undergraduate, developing a commitment to ensemble music education. Elaine graduated from Soka University of America with a B.A. in liberal arts/humanities, and will soon complete a master’s in ethnomusicology at the University of Oxford. She first learned of El Sistema while an undergraduate, and has explored it in both her undergraduate and master’s theses.

Her other academic interests include Soka education (The aim of Soka education is the happiness of oneself and others, as well as society as a whole, and peace for all humanity.), global citizenship, multicultural education, music and identity, music transmission, applied ethnomusicology, and music and conflict transformation. Of Taiwanese and Mexican heritage herself, she has always maintained an interest in different music cultures, and is dedicated to progressing multicultural music education. Her music mentors include: Michael Golden, Allison Johnson, Jim Merod, Noel Lobley, Eric Clarke (ethnomusicology); Stephen Tucker (conducting); Wan-Chin Chang, Kai Chi Zhu (piano); Mary Palchak, Elena Yarritu, and Darin Ishimatsu (flute).