Hard at work preparing for tonight’s first concert at the...

Preparatory School - Sun, 2015-06-21 05:35

Hard at work preparing for tonight’s first concert at the #hofmenningarhus #ypoontour #necmusic #necprepontour (at Hof Menningarhús)

Charting a Path to Clarity in Sistema-inspired Work

Jose-Luis Estrada - Sat, 2015-06-20 16:54

First Published June 19, 2015 on the Sistema Fellowship Center Blog

One of my education systems professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Education recently shared that “People support most what they help create.” (Cassidy 2015) For Sistema-inspired leaders and especially those who have delved into program design, applying this simple but powerful aphorism can help them chart a compelling vision for change.

Outcomes are an important piece of visionary thinking, but let us also not forget the value of leveraging people and ideas. This is how we can create economies of scale and bring programs to the next level. We know that music education produces a myriad of social, cognitive, and aesthetic outcomes and there is ample evidence to support its value, yet we seldom focus on music education as public policy. Every single Sistema program in the US and elsewhere has the potential of being an experiment of that possibility. They are producing relevant outcomes at the local level and soon enough researchers and practitioners will collaborate at the national level. The field has the potential of being successful at this practice. To reach such a level of sophistication we must pause and consider what is working and how we can multiply its effects. So my hope for this blog is to draw attention to a powerful framework that can help Sistema-inspired leaders think more deeply about their work and position their practice as relevant interventions that can lead to systemic change.

Sistema has been an influential force in arts education worldwide. As it became widely disseminated through the media and other scholarly explorations, the Venezuelan program presented us with opportunities and challenges to engage with music education as an innovation for solving a community’s deepest social needs. A leading scholar in the field of international education, noted that innovations, whichever part of the world they hail from, must be “reinvented by adaption.” And discerning the context in which we operate is key to their successful application. Equally important is that discerning leaders should know which elements to transfer and which to leave behind. Some “innovative” ideas can be “superficial and inaccurate” so we must be careful as we consider them as plausible. (Reimers 2015)

I am currently working to design a Sistema-inspired program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that will affirm the value of music-in-education. Our work is designed to serve as a platform to culture aspirations for human development in a group of inner-city elementary level students. To gain dexterity in the process of program design, I’ve been applying a tool called the “Eightfold Path” as outlined by Eugene Bardach in his book, A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving. This tool charts a clear path to conceptualize designs that can be embraced at both the social and political level. The “path” includes several steps: a definition of the problem to solve, collection of evidence pertaining to the problem, identification of alternatives that can solve the problem, criteria by which to weigh the best course of action, a projection of outcomes, examination of costs vs. benefits, and documentation through storytelling. You might have also heard of “logic models” as a parallel idea and found the tool to be useful (if you have not done so, I recommend exploring the Kellogg Foundation’s Logic Model Development Guide), but the Bardach approach posits a more contextual approach that invites practitioners to really “see” their work at work in the midst of landscapes of constant fluctuation and change. 

We tend to think of policy makers as specialized technicians sitting in an ivory tower dictating how public benefit programs should operate. The beauty of our field is that most Sistema-inspired leaders have the opportunity to take on multiple roles and so many of them might already be engaged in the practice of policy making without realizing it. From that vantage point, the practice of policy making can evolve organically as they make critical decisions in support of the communities that they serve. My hope for these leaders is that they would begin charting and documenting their path for change and inviting others to reflect upon that work. This is a critical piece of a program’s sustainability.  

The work that we are doing together across the country (over ninety programs and counting) is a testament of our collective vision for change. But we must bring this change to the next level by thinking broadly and transferring ideas and frameworks from other disciplines into our work. Sistema-inspired leaders are adapting a noble educational philosophy that posits bringing music education to the masses but we still have a long way to go to reach our goal. To be successful, we can begin by examining our own work more closely and using relevant tools to test its logic. Local programs can grow stronger when they articulate their goals clearly, establish links with like-minded programs, leverage resources in the community, and bring people together to pursue a shared vision. People will not only support most what they help create, but also what they can clearly understand.

Jose Luis received an Innovation Grant from the Sistema Fellowship Resource Center to pursue a professional program in educational leadership through Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. He currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and leads the design and management of Sistema Tulsa.

We could get used to this. #necprepontour #ypoontour #necmusic ...

Preparatory School - Sat, 2015-06-20 08:33

We could get used to this. #necprepontour #ypoontour #necmusic (at Myvatn Naturebath)

Day 1: Gorgeous weather and new Icelandic friends! #necmusic...

Preparatory School - Sat, 2015-06-20 08:26

Day 1: Gorgeous weather and new Icelandic friends! #necmusic #ypoontour #necprepontour (at Akureyri Iceland)

And we’re off! #necprepontour #ypoontour #necmusic (at On...

Preparatory School - Sat, 2015-06-20 08:24

And we’re off! #necprepontour #ypoontour #necmusic (at On the Road, Iceland)

We made it! Let the fun begin #necmusic #ypoontour...

Preparatory School - Fri, 2015-06-19 20:18

We made it! Let the fun begin #necmusic #ypoontour #necprepontour (at Keflavik International Airport Liefur Eiriksson Terminal)

Charting a Path to Clarity in Sistema-inspired Work

Exploring El Sistema - Fri, 2015-06-19 14:23
One of my education systems professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Education recently shared that “People support most what they help create.” (Cassidy 2015) For Sistema-inspired leaders and especially those who have delved into program design, applying this simple but powerful aphorism can help them chart a compelling vision... Sistema Fellows Program

Omer Quartet Joins NEC's Professional Training Program

NEC Blog - Fri, 2015-06-19 09:47

New England Conservatory announces the Omer Quartet as the 2015 selection for its Professional String Quartet Training program. The Omer Quartet comprises Mason Yu ‘15 M.M., first violin; Erica Tursi, second violin; Jinsun Hong '13 M.M., '15 G.D., viola; Alex Cox, cello.

The Conservatory offers the two-year residency to exceptional ensembles that show the talent and commitment necessary to pursue a concert career. The program consists of regular coaching sessions and meetings with Paul Katz, the program’s director, additional study with NEC’s renowned string faculty, weekly individual studio instruction, and an annual recital in Jordan Hall.

Erica Tursi, second violinist of the Omer Quartet, expressed the group’s sentiments about the upcoming residency:

“We are thrilled to embark on this new chapter in New England Conservatory’s Professional String Quartet Training Program,” said Tursi. “The character and warmth of the school coupled with the outstanding faculty make it a perfect fit for us. We look forward to two years of growth and exciting opportunities and we are certain that under Paul Katz’s mentorship, we will reach new heights!” she stated.

NEC’s Professional String Quartet Training program has helped shape the artistic development of distinguished quartets such as the Jupiter, Parker, Ariel and Harlem Quartets. During the two-year residency, a full tuition scholarship and a $10,000 stipend is provided for each student per year.

“We are very excited to welcome the Omer Quartet to NEC this fall,” said Tom Novak, Interim President. “They join a very impressive list of quartets which have participated in this program and won several major international competitions, plus they serve on the faculty of major music schools and conservatories. NEC’s Professional String Quartet Training program provides the highest level of education in all aspects of artistry and career development, and we look forward to seeing the Omer Quartet thrive in this environment,” he said.

“NEC is the ideal setting for a professional quartet training program—perhaps no other conservatory has an artist faculty with so much depth and experience in string quartets,” said the program’s music director, Paul Katz. “The Omer Quartet will now spend two years immersed in training and in the study of some of the most profound repertoire in Western music. The goal is to prepare them for a successful concertizing career just as the many illustrious groups that have preceded them,” he said.

Cannot stop listening to this.

NEC Blog - Fri, 2015-06-19 09:21

Cannot stop listening to this.

Postcard from Venezuela: “Had a great day teaching in...

NEC Blog - Thu, 2015-06-18 10:00

Postcard from Venezuela: “Had a great day teaching in Mérida, Venezuela today. Thanks to Fran Vielma for setting up the trip. And thanks to the Venezuelan students for their energy, enthusiasm and musicality.”- Ken Schaphorst NEC

“I get most of my joy in life from music.” - Albert...

NEC Blog - Thu, 2015-06-18 09:01

“I get most of my joy in life from music.” - Albert Einstein

Denis Matsuev counsels XV Tchaikovsky Competition performers to...

NEC Blog - Thu, 2015-06-18 08:59

Denis Matsuev counsels XV Tchaikovsky Competition performers to enjoy themselves. Representing NEC: pianists Sangyoung Kim and George Li, violinist Yoojin Jang, cellists Hee Young Lim and Tao Ni. George Li’s first performance is broadcast live today at 9:50am EST via medici.tv.

Hello Thursday.

NEC Blog - Thu, 2015-06-18 08:45

Hello Thursday.

June 17 SLPC Update

NEC Construction News - Wed, 2015-06-17 14:06

Here are some quick updates regarding the work that is proceeding in the 241 St. Botolph building, as well as the Student Life & Performance Center:


Work continues on making this building ADA (American Disabilities Act) code compliant.  Conversion of our existing bathrooms, and installation of new railings, door handles and water fountains are proceeding through the end of July.

The work will be intermittent, and only one bathroom will be closed temporarily at any one time to help minimize the disruption.

PLEASE OBSERVE ALL DO NOT ENTER SIGNAGE, as these areas are now dangerous; you don’t want to find yourself in the bottom of an open shaft!

G03 will be closed until July 15.


Site preparation for the pile driving, which is scheduled to begin June 22, is actually ahead of schedule.  We think perhaps a nod to the Anvil Chorus is appropriate to mark the launch of this next phase, which will continue through Labor Day.  We anticipate that the sidewalk closure will occur mid July.


Please direct any to Mike Ryan, Michael.ryan@necmusic.edu, 617-585-1187; Karen Kidd, Karen.kidd@necmusic.edu, 617-585-1181; or anyone on the marketing team.  You can always find an updated project status at necmusic.edu/slpc-updates

Stravinsky: Patrouchka with the NEC Phil + guest conductor Tito...

NEC Blog - Wed, 2015-06-17 08:28

Stravinsky: Patrouchka with the NEC Phil + guest conductor Tito Munoz live in Jordan Hall 2010

Introducing our iPadio channel!

Preparatory School - Tue, 2015-06-16 14:37
Introducing our iPadio channel!:

“Hi, I’m Steven Karidoyanes. This iPadio channel chronicles the June 2015 tour of the New England Conservatory Youth Symphony. We’re traveling to Ireland and Northern Ireland, with performances in Galway, Derry and Dublin. Stop by this channel every once in a while and follow our trip.”

NEC premiere in NYC

NEC Blog - Tue, 2015-06-16 13:29

Wednesday, June 17, Chelsea Music Festival presents NY premiere of Immutable Dreams by Kati Agocs of the NEC faculty. NEC performers on this Hungarian-themed program include Tessa Lark, Amy Galluzzo, Derek Mosloff, Michael Dahlberg, joining the Festival’s 2015 Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation artist, violist Vladimir Babeshko.

Our NEC jazz ambassadors in Venezuela: Ken Schaphorst, Isaac...

NEC Blog - Tue, 2015-06-16 09:49

Our NEC jazz ambassadors in Venezuela: Ken Schaphorst, Isaac Wilson, Fran Vielma, Dan Raney and Mike Dick. They are visiting this week playing concerts and teaching, and meeting some incredible musicians!