Saturday, March 24, 2012

Group Learning: Sistema Fellows from the New England Conservatory

As we passed from dry farmland, to gorgeous, verdant mountains, to fields of palm trees on our ten-hour drive from Calabozo to Coro, I continuously thought about how very, very lucky we are that the New England Conservatory has sent us here. That a U.S. music conservatory has supported 30 musicians over the last 3 years in an El Sistema Venezuelan immersion is not just really cool; it is extraordinary.

The 10 Sistema Fellows from the New England Conservatory (formerly called Abreu Fellows) are traveling as one big group for the whole 5 weeks in Venezuela. This is a little different than in previous years, when fellows split up into smaller groups to travel. Even though traveling in a group of 10 has its challenges, it also comes with the tremendous benefit that there are more people to learn from. And you can't do much better than this group of 10 if you want to learn from deeply thoughtful, inquisitive, musical leaders.

My fellow Fellow David France said something the other day that resonated with me. It was something to the effect of, "We keep talking about what we're seeing from El Sistema about group learning. How are we applying that to learning from each other and working together as a group?"

Observing and sharing perspectives with my fellow Fellows has been just as profound a learning experience for me as has observing and teaching at the nucleos. So as an homage to my teachers, here are a few videos of fellows in action (there's more to come):

Avi Mehta teaching in Valle de la Pascua

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Aisha Bowden and Alysia Lee greet the Valle de la Pascua choir in a Spanish-rendition of "Shalom," translation courtesy of Stephanie Hsu
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One of my FAVORITE moments from this trip: Aisha and Alysia greeting every choir in Valle de la Pascua with Oh Happy Day.

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