Monday, December 31, 2012

OSL in December Part 2: El Sistema Sessions at The DiMenna Center

Sessions at The DiMenna Center, organized by Heath Marlow, Dec. 10 and 11
Heath, formerly of Community Music Works, is now Program Director of the Sistema Fellows program at NEC. He wanted to organize sessions for the Fellows during the New York events so they could discuss various topics with the leaders of the Sistema movement. I offered our spaces at DMC, which seemed to be a perfect meeting place for them. On the first day, Gretchen Nielsen led everyone (current Fellows, Mark, Jose, several other guests) in a logic model exercise, much like she did with us last year. (For those of you unfamiliar with the expression, a logic model is a clever planning exercise to dream really big and identify your vision, the resources you need to turn that vision into a reality, and all of the outcomes you hope to see as a result of that vision.) What was surprising was the lack of music mentioned in peoples’ visions for their programs. Our vision last year was this golden dream of a program: a house that was spilling over with music-making, whole neighborhoods transformed by music and participating in music at a high level. This years’ Fellows, though, seemed to be more focused on the social outcomes. I wondered what they were getting out of the session (for me, it was transformative when we went through it), but then again, I couldn’t stay for the whole thing so I may have missed the heart of the conversation.

On the second day, Eric Booth led a larger group in discussions that connected to other conversations and themes that arose across the country during the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra's tour. The topics centered mostly around the motivation of the learner, and we also tapped into race and ethnicity and addressing assumptions in our work as administrators and teachers. It was exciting to be a part of the conversation and host it at our home. I was particularly thrilled to see who came: it was like all of the rockstars of the Sistema movement in one place! Jamie Bernstein, Karen Zorn, Erik Holmgren, Gretchen Nielsen, Eric Booth, all of the current fellows, three former Fellows, and Ken Cole from the National Guild for Community Arts Education. I hope that this is just the beginning of many more conversations and professional development sessions on Sistema-inspired work at the DMC.

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