Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The most rural communities in Venezuela are seeders for E.S. - those places where there is no infrastructure, where they might not even have a roof, there is no strategic planning. It is being in a constant state of planification - and yet the orchestra as a model works.
E.S. is based on Vygotsky's social constructivism; learning through socialization - that is the theory of social action through music - in the orchestra children develop multiple intelligences. Not only that but we use ¨functional solfege¨ that is you learn solfege by doing, playing in the instrument.
Violin is separated into four stages which are based of Simsons Taxonomy.
Imitation, precision, control, automatizing
Imitation: kids watch imitate correct posture, instrument hold, 4 8ths per bow, first position, start with martelé, detache, spiccato, major scales (sol, la, re) and their relative minors, tuning (repeats by imitation), forte/piano, keeps time (60 quarter). Kids learn the note names by ear (Suzuki mother tongue).
Repertory: Apollo suite, traditional folk songs: el grillito, el saltarín, pomp and circumstance, preludio carmen, toy symphony, brandemburg suite, ode to joy, mexican overture, tanhauser suite, rameau suite for orchestra, vivaldi alla rustica (1,3), mission impossible theme, polovetsian dances, william tell. Arranged repertoire for level 1.
Precision: kids have more scientific knowledge, understands/adopt correct posture by themselves, understands the correct way of holding the instrument and bow, 4 eights to a bow, first and 3rd position, detaché-martelé-spiccato-balsato(??), developing quality of sound, corrects intonation, keeps precise rhythm, piano, mezzos, forte,FF, tempo 90
Repertory: gypsy overture (isaac), the great gate of kiev, concierto madrigalesco, new world symphony (4mvt), alleluia messiah, overture 1812, Ven. national anthem, jupiter planets, fire bird beracuse finale, toreadores carmen, water music finale, sobre las estepas del asia central (Borodin), mozart 28 and 12 (not arrangements), Venezuela (armenteros), aires de Venezuela:joropo.
Control: controls body posture and instrument hold, eight 8th notes per bow, 1,3,5th position, detaché/martelé/spiccato/balsato, tunes correctly, suficient sound quality, pianissimo-ff, controls tempi when performing, beginning vibrato, tempo:120
Rep (no arrangements anymore): conga del fuego nuevo (marquez), nutcracker, aires de Ven, Danzon 2, orpheus in the underworld, beethoven 1,5, mozart 31, haydn 104, light cavarly, suite ballet la estancia, danza de los trabajadores agricolas, strauss radetzky, william tell cabalgata.
Automatizing: correct body-instrument position, uses bow and instrument correctly, eight 8ths notes per bow, 1-7th position, uses vibrato and tempo with sensitivity.
Rep: march slav, tchaik 4 4mvt, rienzi ov, festive overture, tchai overture 1812, sensamaya, schubert unfinished.
These levels and pedagogical concepts is found in the Plan nacional de capacitación docente, written by the members of the Academia latinoamericana de violin.
In the begining strings they work with a lot of martelé (in the different parts of the bow), working alla corda, emphasis on separating notes. This builds from the begining the concept of sounding together. This is what he calls the Abreu sound or chasquido - everything at heel without hitting the notes. They also work Galamians´ concepts of flat hair and the point of contact where the bow adheres to the string. With the little ones they start with a lot of open strings accompanied by piano.
The techniques for the development of E.S. is the taller or sectionals. The teachers have to be great leaders, not people with degrees necessarily, they need basic conducting skills and not having a soft character. Liderazgo materno or maternal leadership is what it takes for a teacher to be successful.
LEARNING HAS TO BE FUN and its all a game for the kids. E.S. builds discipline and trains the brain to crave the satisfaction of doing things right to earn the applause.
¨Poor kids don´t get applause from anyone, and once they do they will never forget that feeling¨
Because E.S. is a meritocracy students that progress make it into the academy where they get masterclasses, private lessons, lots of playing opportunities.
You don´t need the best prepared musicians in E.S. the teachers you don´t see are the ones that make up E.S. In Lara there are 17,500 people benefitted by E.S. either directly or indirectly.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Módulos: el Tocuyo, Carora, Cabudare, Sarare, Tamaca, Quibor, Sanare, Duaca, and the newest Santa Rosa. In Barquisimeto there are 9 orchestras, with 3,000 kids. Every state has a foundation, in this case FESNOJIV is umbrella for JOVIL (Fundación Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Lara) and Fundación Conservatorio de Música Vicente Emilio Sojo. To train teachers they either travel to Caracas, but more regularly (sometimes every 15 days) teachers come from Caracas to help teachers. Universidad de los Andes has documented the impacts of music students and academic achievement in Venezuela.
In Barquisimeto there are plans for starting a site similar to Centro de Acción Social por la Música, hopefully Getty will be the architect for this structure - fingers crossed!
About his musical training
Luis studied with an Italian from the old school - the rigid curriculum (can´t get to B if you don´t do A), they tested students to see if they had aptitude, solfege/theory course then instrument. He said ¨there was a lot of talent, but there were imposed barriers¨ When Maestro Abreu begins conducting a youth orchestra that was playing repertoire beyond their ¨technical capacities¨ and breaking away from the audition models, he embodied and instilled in them what he believed - everyone has the right to participate in the orchestra.
Luis never left Barquisimeto even though Maestro A. asked him to stay in Caracas. E.S. used foreigners to teach rather than to play in the orchestra, he also began recording these masterclasses. Media and technology has been a very important part of the spreading knowledge into the other nucleos around the country.
The Academies began in 1976, the violin academy is directed by Francisco Castillo, and Francisco Díaz is the violin director in Barquisimeto. The violin technique in E.S. uses the principles of Galamian´s technique because Castillo was a student of his. The cello school was formed 6 years ago, the technique is basically - do what is most comfortable for the student, however tuning is the most important thing! The bass school developed more uniformly. At first German and French where used, but the professional orchestra in Maracaibo hired Polish double bass teachers, which solidified the German technique in Venezuela. French bass technique is very rare now a days.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Originally the conservatory had agreed to borrow their building to rehearse. Kids were being admitted into the orchestra without technical level or theoretical knowledge to perform the pieces. This was contrary to the teaching in conservatory, this pedagogical discrepancy led the youth orchestra to find another home. The orchestra wondered around sites through the city *the even played at Alfredo D´Adonna´s house (current general director of the Fundación Orquesta Sindónica Juvenil e Infantil del Estado Lara). The conservatory apparently did not have that many students so it was then annexed to what is now FESNOJIV.
The board did not constitute of musicians, so there were difficulties for non-musicians to understand the needs from musicians. That changed pretty quickly after the conservatory transitioned to FESNOJIV. Alfonso mentioned the difficulties and the challenge Maestro Abreu gave to them - they were to be musicians and managers. They had to learn on the fly, Maestro Abreu served as an advisor as well as a mentor.
Originally the program did not start as a social rescue, but out of the need to create a space for Venezuela musicians to feel like they belonged. Before FESNOJIV there was only one national orchestra which was founded largely with foreigners (over 90%).
What happens to kids who want to become professional musicians, but are not at the level to be able to play professionally?
Its a hard question to answer because we don't exclude anyone from the orchestra, yet the kids themselves realize where they are going. There are some exceptions, for example the bassoonist from the Simon Boliva is a surgeon and plays in the orchestra. Kids learn how to excel in this program, to reach their human potential. The goal is not to train professional musicians. However, many of the students from the nucleo continue teaching or become administrators in the nucleos.
The kids in the juvenil in Barquisimeto have the challenge to accept everyone, that includes peers with less skill. That is something that has to be instilled and taught to them. The young players will get a better level playing with those that are better than them. The paradigm of orchestras begin formed by the best is destroyed by E.S. - it breaks the paradigm that there are limitations for the musicians.
¨oportunidades para todos por igual¨
¨E.S. grew out of young people, the most advantageous musicians were the ones that would teach new musicians. In the beginning you don't need amazing musicians, just people that believe in the project.¨
¨We believe in what we do¨
¨Maestro Abreu cannot do this alone, and he is amazing at finding leaders. Leaders emerge and people chose to follow - appointed leaders will achieve less.¨
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Our first half day here and we already experienced some amazing musiking (Adrienne hates the word, I´m not a fan either).
The II Festival de Percusión started today, they had the compota group (ages 2-8, which you will see in the video) and older students. The second group (black shirts) have only been playing for 5 months!! Older students can really take the nucleos to a higher musical level when mixed with the younger students (Rodrigo, FESNOJIV).
I love the reaction from the audience (BRAVOS! clapping, dancing, singing) especially when the folk/pop tunes begin. Talking with the director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil e Infantil del Estado Lara I found out that 30 years ago the audience in Ven. was a little shy, something similar happens in Panama (I don´t know if now it has changed). So that is a change that came about slowly, but I think it is essential for the children to feel successful and encouraged. No amount of material extrinsic rewards can surpass the feeling of being important to your community and family.
More to come soon - Steven is editing videos, I will link as soon as they´re ready!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
- Caring atmosphere - essential and a vital part of the nucleos
- leadership: delegation vs. micromanaging = what is a healthy in between?
- staff challenges: crowd control
- organization quick to adapt to change = great when crisis hits
- staff = begin small with a group that is egoless and can collaborate. Nurture the teachers artistic endeavors (sharing their personal events, retreat, seminarios)
- get passionate board members
- engage the stakeholders face to face. This increases their opportunity to donate
- parent classes are fantastic (community impact)
- how to nurture/challenge excelling students; avoiding unhealthy competition between students
- think of retention strategies
- what drives the learning (social outcome, repertoire, note reading)
- everyone (board, staff, kids, janitors) know the mission and the core values of the organization. Building curriculum together (Hola, LA)
- no limits on learning - (Renaissance Arts Academy )
- have clear lines that every decision has to be driven on the impact over the children. That means leaving egos behind and learning to collaborate.
- professional development - seminarios with leading artists in the field (accomplished with partnerships)
- high priority in teacher quality. Using peer-peer teacher assessments, self assessments, video taping, etc., in order to establish a learning culture for the teachers as well
- different relationship to the job (for teachers). Not just coming in to clock it and take off, but to invest in the kids and building trust with the families. For this money has to come off the table.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Cultivo una rosa blanca Y para el cruel que me arranca
en junio como enero
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano franca.
el corazón con que vivo,
cardo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo la rosa blanca.
Cultivo una rosa blanca
Y para el cruel que me arranca
por José Martí
I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.
And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.
José Martí's Rosa blanca and the White Rose student resistance (1942, Germany) bare a lot of similarities. Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Prost were executed by guillotine for "high treason" because they spoke up against the atrocities the Nazis were committing and stood by their convictions in court.
Martí fought in the Cuban revolution against Spain. In midst of battle he disobeyed orders to retreat, yelling: "a la carga!" riding his horse into enemy lines. Some think its a romanticized tale, but regardless, the idea of giving up your life for something you believe in has often been seen as stupid.
por la puerta natural:
en un carro de hojas verdes
a morir me han de llevar.
No me pongan en lo oscuro a morir como un traidor:
yo soy bueno, y como bueno
moriré de cara al sol.
- By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.
- A Morir [To Die] (1894) - J. Marti
SP: It's a windmill.
DQ : A giant. Canst thou not see the four great arms whirling at his back?
SP: A giant?
Friday, March 4, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
- Music is a multisensory/motor experience, because it changes functional brain networks.
- Music can improve neurological impairments and disorders
- singing changes the brain - melodic intonation is being used to treat aphasia. These patients cannot string words very well, but they can do so in a singing voice.
- This is possible if there are two different system that support auditory output [how to sound]
- if there is a minor injury, the brain reassigns other parts of the brain to take over (only with small lesions)
- with a large injury, most of the brain is affected, so there are no neighbor areas the brain can reassign
- with speech therapy the other part of the brain can be trained to performs those functions (brain plasticity) here is a video on brain plasticity
- In the 70 in Boston melodic intonation therapy emerged.
- The elements used are melodic intonation (engages the right hemisphere) and tapping (engages motor system). Mapping sound to actions activates Broca's regions [language are of brain].
- After training there is more activation of the right side of the brain [frontal gyrus], and connections between temporal and frontal regions change. There is a rudimentary system on the right side of the brain that connects with the temporal lobe.
- Melodic training is not magic - we could argue that any type of intense therapy improves speech in these patients.
- Currently studies are comparing other therapies with melodic intonation with control and experimental groups.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
- Rapid auditory processing is the ability to hear subtile changes in auditory stimuli (ex: say, stay). Its believed that children who have language and reading imparements can't sequence 2 tones at rapid presentation rates.
- Music acquisition skills and language have a positive correlation - verbal/memory skills, phoneme awareness, spelling and writing skills.
- Hypothesis: children musician possess better auditory processing that children who are not musicians.
- Executive functioning (E.F) - "the CEO of the brain" - responsible for self regulating behaviour, emotions, resist impulses and discipline. Being able to control yourself means you are less likely to commit to negative life outcomes (drop-out, crime). Do musicians show better E.F. skills compared to non musicians (adults)?
- E.F. skills can be improved by musical training. Preliminary research shows that music skills may lead to improved verbal fluency, cognitive flexibility, verbal working memory.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
This is what most of Boston and the street we live in looks like. I remember Jamie Bernstein saying how much she loved snow in NY: because the city never looks that clean - until you get all that slush!
- open lines of communication in the community you are planning to move into (through some type of survey) in order to see the needs and challenges that community might be facing
- the hardest job is to manage people - and it is a skill that is learned
- Create a process so that you know what you want to get out of the applicant (clear job description), know what they are about.
- Looking at CV = Sebastian equated it to being INTEL. Check for references, but also relevant work experienced that are not mentioned as references
- During the interview create a scenario relevant to the work they will be doing to see how they respond to pressure
- Hire on strengths of individuals, and assign them on tasks that emphasize those areas
- create a learning organization
- are you creating space to learn? (teachers, students, staff)
- conflict is inevitable - train staff to resolve conflicts. This, in my opinion, is vital to the success of the organization
- share leadership - be clear about the role and job assigned
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
It takes guts to follow and stand out! Nurture your first follower as equal.
A movement must be public, you must show the followers.
Leadership is over glorified!!
Similar to an epidemic spreads, El Sistema will be more effectively “contagious” by conglomerating in highly populated areas, rather than sporadic segregated growth throughout the country. Maybe comparing ES to an epidemic is not an elegant analogy, but both operate socially. That is, we look at our surroundings and follow trends. The perfect example: Facebook began by connecting a community of students, enabling instant communication between friends, leading folks to acquaintances, mutual friends, and total strangers. Your friends have it, and so do you in order to keep up with them. Like Ben Zander would say: This opens a world of possibilities.
I am excited that some of the fellows and myself are thinking of staying in Boston. The communication between CLCS, Zumix and others would become more fluid, perhaps sharing venues (a particular hall). Seemingly small things like these could really start a movement.
Initial conversations were of starting ES Boston, however the amount of capital necessary would have been enormous. No one has forbidden us from settling where other programs have settled, and perhaps we can think of the proximity of other programs as an advantage that can help narrow the search for a location.
One of the reasons El Sistema works is that it has created a continuum. Programs in Venezuela are coordinated through FESNOJIV, at local, state, and national levels. If a child moves, there is a nucleo accessible to them. This is how they created perpetuity - starting locally. This has to be our long-term goal as an ES community.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Here is a video of my time in Argentina these past weeks. The first clip is from a tango show, the second is jam session in a conventillo of la Boca, Bs. As. Guillermo (bass) called me and said, how would you like to go to a jam session of candombe and tango? I said I’m there. Mamma, nos metimos en la boca del lobo!! We got there with my mum, and my uncles and they said, we should go back! But, for some reason we decided to go in - as scary as the neighborhood looked, the hosts of the house were wonderful!
I also made a contact of a bandoneón player called Bruno Ferreccio, a wonderful teacher and performer. I took a couple of lessons and got excited about learning bandoneon seriously, however they are a wee expensive (US$4,000), and I don’t really have the commitment to change profession. The bandoneón is a magnificent instrument, and tough to play! Maybe I will - when I am 64!
Monday, January 10, 2011
Please allow me to share information about the Abreu Fellows Program, based at New England Conservatory.
The Abreu Fellows Program provides tuition-free instruction and a needs-based living stipend for outstanding, young postgraduate musicians and music educators, “passionate for their art and for social justice,” who seek to guide the development of El Sistema programs in the U.S. El Sistema is Venezuela's celebrated youth orchestra program that has given us Gustavo Dudamel and the amazing Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra.
The academic year-long program provides Fellows with in-depth knowledge of the mission and musical methodology of the El Sistema vision, so brilliantly pioneered in Venezuela. In addition, the Fellows are instructed in music education methodologies, leadership, organizational development and management, fundraising and working with underserved youth and communities. The program includes a three-week U.S. internship as well as shorter visits to U.S. El Sistema-inspired programs, and a two-month residency in Venezuela.
Pending confirmation of funding, the program will start August 29, 2011. We would appreciate it if you would distribute the information below to Advisors, Faculty members, Career Services personnel, Deans, Alumni Officers, and anyone else who has direct contact with graduating seniors, graduate students who are completing their degrees this year, and alumni who graduated approximately ten years ago or fewer. We are looking for only ten Fellows, but we want to publicize the opportunity widely so as to attract those individuals most suited to our program. The Application Deadline is February 14, 2011.
If you would like more information about the Abreu Fellows Program, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your collaboration.
Abreu Fellows Program
New England Conservatory
Monday, January 3, 2011
Here is a video of our visit to the Harmony Program Christmas Concert in NY. Thank you so much to Anne and the staff for opening the doors of the program!