iTocar y Luchar!
Ed. I,  Vol. V
View this email in your browser
El Sistema USA and the Ongoing Commitment to Social Justice

For months, it seems like the endless undercurrent of racial tension in our country has been exploding. The media splashes headlines of young people and authorities clashing in unthinkable and unsustainable ways.  From Ferguson to Baltimore, issues of race, justice, aggression and failed dialogue are at the forefront of most people's minds.

El Sistema USA is an organization dedicated to creating positive social change through music.  Our member organizations are on the front lines of this ongoing American struggle, serving the young people most affected by it at times.  Our commitment as an organization to being a healthy voice in the currently needed dialogue is stronger than ever... and our desire to be innovative while doing so is also resolute.

Coming soon, expect to see invitations to:
  • Conference calls with leaders in the El Sistema field and complementary disciplines to discuss ways to optimize our interactions with our communities and young people in order to maximize our impact 
  •  LiveTweets / Online forums to facilitate question and answer sessions about best practices and options for positively bringing reconciliation and hope to our communities
  • Online tool kits designed to help El Sistema professionals interact with the young people facing the fall out from traumatic experiences
We aim to be a positive and supportive voice in the progress toward a communal future that serves all people.  If you have a suggestion for another way we might be able to do that, please send your comments to 

 Program Profile

SDYS Community Opus Project
San Diego, California

Our profile this month focuses on a program with a track record for excellence!  Thank you to Lucy Coker and Dalogue Smith for sharing with the El Sistema USA community!

When was your program founded?  The Community Opus Project was founded in 2010
How many sites / current students?  When we began, we provided after-school music to 65 students at 2 schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD). There was no in-school music offered at CVESD. Today, over 3,500 students at all grade levels are learning music in-school. Six schools now have full-time music teachers. Another 4 schools are to hire music teachers next year and more will be added each year until music is available to all students. 190 students are currently enrolled in SDYS’ afterschool programs which held at 3 campuses, but open to students from all 46 CVESD schools..
                    Photo Credit:  SDYS Community Opus Project

What are you most proud of?  We are very proud that our Community Opus Project has been successful at creating systemic change within a school district and that by sharing our experience we have been able to inspire other communities both within and outside our region to develop similar school partnerships. We are also very proud that so many students are now learning and enjoying music.
What is your dream for 5 years from now?  10? 50? 
By 2020, CVESD will be half-way toward its goal of providing in-school music instruction to all students by 2025. A culture of music is developing throughout Chula Vista and is spreading throughout the San Diego region. At least 3 more school districts in the County have begun to hire music teachers for their new in-school music education programs. Afterschool music programs are proliferating as a first step toward in-school music.
By 2025, CVESD will have reached its goal of all its students learning music in school and other school districts are not far behind in providing music instruction to all their students. School districts offering less than excellent music education will feel the pressure to step up their game. Music education degrees will become one of the most sought after degrees in Southern California.
By 2065, most of the population in the Southwestern region of the U.S. will hardly recall a time when learning music was not offered by all schools! Other regions are not far behind. Audiences for all genres of music are at an all-time high.
What makes your el sistema inspired program unique?  Our Community Opus Project is unique because we are using the program to advocate for the return of in-school music education. We feel schools are the best equipped to provide high quality music instruction to the most students because they have funding, classrooms, personnel, and daily access to students. It is a continuing challenge to display the value of music education in a way that the district responds by budgeting for the programs on their own. We partnered with the Chula Vista Elementary School District, the largest K-6 district in California with 29,000 students, which had eliminated its music program more than 15 years earlier.
We began by providing free after-school music instruction and loaned instruments to 65 3rd graders at 2 schools. The program was our way of demonstrating the many benefits of learning music to parents, teachers, school administrators and the community. We also aligned our assessment methods with those of the district so that they could view the results and compare them to their own. Before the first year was out, the District was so impressed by the changes in the students and the increased parental engagement in their children’s overall education, they asked SDYS to expand the program to 200 students at 6 schools. They provided financial support to help make the growth possible. Before the 3rd year was over, the District Board was convinced of the value of learning music and made the commitment to reinstate a district-wide standards-based music education program with the goal of all students learning music by 2025.
Another unique aspect of the program has been the collaborative relationship SDYS and the District has forged. The Superintendent and top-level administrators have been very involved which has helped and that we are “outsiders” has permitted change to occur more quickly because we’ve been able to avoid bureaucratic obstacles.  When the District committed to starting a music program of its own, because they did not have music expertise on staff, they asked SDYS to provide professional assistance to get the program up and running.


Photo Credit:  SDYS Community Opus Project

In this edition:

   commitment to
   Social Justice

II.  Program Profile:          
     SDYS Community
     Opus Project

III.  Resources:  
      a.  Opportunities
           and Calls
      b.  Jobs!

IV.  Board Spotlight:         Aurelia Rocha

Your 2015
El Sistema USA Board of Directors


Stanford Thompson, Chair

Richard Mukamal, Vice Chair

Rey Ramirez, Treasurer

Aurelia Rocha, Clerk

Daniel Trahey

Mark Churchill

Joe Hamm

Albert Oppenheimer

Anna Pietraszko

Mark Sarich

Nick Skinner

Patrick Slevin

Kathryn Wyatt



Be sure to visit the Jobs page for more details about the following positions and many more:

Administrative Assistant -  El Sistema Colorado -- Denver, CO

Orchestral Instructor and String Instructor -- Lawrence Public Schools -- Lawrence, MA

AfterSchool String Instructor - Orchestra of St. Luke's - New York, NY

Program Director - El Sistema Lehigh Valley - Allentown, PA

Choir Director and Accompanist - BRAVO Youth Orchestras - Portland, OR

Opportunities and Calls

For more information on any of these opportunities, follow the links or visit our Facebook page.

(1)  The Foundation for the Advancement of String Education
(FASE) is hosting 2 String Teacher certification options this summer. 

(2) The Longy School of Music in partnership with the LA Philharmonic are offering a 12 -month Master of Arts in Teaching, with an emphasis on music as an agent of social justice.  The scholarship deadline has passed, but general admission is open for application!

(3) California Institute of the Arts announces the 2015 Summer Residency for Teaching Artists, May 18-June 19, 2015.  This program is specifically designed for artists who want to deepen their teaching skills and for those who are already teaching artists in the visual, performing, media, and literary arts.  Drawing upon the 25-year history of the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) program, this 5-week residency will include courses on creative curriculum design, child and adolescent social and cognitive development, creativity, imagination, and learning theories.  Applications are due on or before May 9, 2015 at  For more information, please contact Glenna Avila

(4) North Park University Music Program is offering a Certificate  in Music for Social Change and Human Values.  Applications for Fall admissions are due by July 1.  For more information, contact Dr. Rebecca Ryan.
Board Spotlight

Name:  Aurelia Rocha
Board Position:  Clerk
Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Aurelia is a cellist based in San Antonio, Texas.  An alumna of nearly every Texas school (seriously:  UT San Antonio, UT Austin, and Texas Tech), she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the El Sistema family.

She says that her favorite thing about El Sistema is watching the kids build a music community and that her advice to anyone starting out in the field is to plan as far ahead as possible, for as many eventualities as possible.

While she reports that she would be a landscaper if she weren't in the field of music, she does say that if she could go back in time and tell her younger self anything, it would be to practice - forget everything else.  It sounds like she shouldn't give up her bow for a lawn mower anytime soon!  She openly admits that she doesn't mind eating food made from bugs and would travel to Australia if she could go anywhere in the world - and that she would go alone! (Brave woman, on both counts!)

Thanks for your service, Aurelia!


Copyright © 2015 El Sistema USA, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp