September 24, 2012
Last Friday, we welcomed author and educator, Tricia Tunstall, to speak to our new and returning teachers as part of our first pre-program Teacher Training Workshop of the new school year.
Tunstall’s recent book, Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music, tells the story of Venezuela’s internationally renowned model of music education and its most famous ambassador, L.A. Philharmonic conductor, Gustavo Dudamel.
Tricia has traveled the world sharing her studies of El Sistema, its methods, and its impact, and she offered our teachers valuable insights into the ways in which they can adapt to their classrooms El Sistema’s holistic approach to teaching.
In addressing the adaptability of El Sistema to other cultures, Tunstall told us that each El Sistema-inspired music program is distinct from the others. She characterized the Harmony Program as driven by “a tremendous and beautiful ambition to reach very far and very high.”
Tricia also expressed excitement about working with our teachers in the workshop setting. “I’d love to see them be pioneers in figuring out how the principles of El Sistema can catch fire here,” she said. “They are out there experimenting, and they’re the ones who will really figure out what El Sistema will look like in the United States.”
September 20, 2012
The Harmony Program is coming to Washington Heights!
The United Palace of Cultural Arts, the first dedicated space for arts and cultural programs in Washington Heights, was founded on the commitment to use the arts as a means to unite and uplift young people in this diverse community. As UPCA Director of Programming, Mike Fitelson, explains, “Our motto is, ‘This is where art transforms lives.’”
It’s no surprise, then, that one of the first priorities for UPCA organizers was to welcome to the space a program inspired by Venezuela’s world renowned youth orchestra system, “El Sistema,” in an effort to introduce neighborhood children to the many benefits of music-making.
Enter the Harmony Program.
“The music is actually just the hook. … You’re really trying to mold citizens out of these kids. You’re teaching them the confidence, the self-esteem, and the camaraderie that will help them become high-achieving individuals,” says Fitelson, “and that’s what all of the programs here should do.”
“The music is actually just the hook. You’re really trying to mold citizens out of these kids. You’re teaching them the confidence, the self-esteem, and the camaraderie that will help them become high-achieving individuals…”
The partnership between the Harmony Program and the United Palace officially began last Thursday at Harmony’s orientation and instrument demonstration, an annual event where teachers share their instruments with prospective students, and the students make informed choices about which one they want to study with the Harmony Program. Classes start in the coming weeks.
We’re so proud of the group of teachers working with us this year at the UPCA, and for the opportunity to be a part of this valuable addition to the Washington Heights community. Stay tuned for more updates on the Harmony Program at the United Palace, and read more about last Thursday’s event at the UPCA’s website.
February 28, 2012
On Friday night, the PBS NewsHour ran a 10-minute segment on the Harmony Program — including interviews with students, parents, teachers, and administrators — to demonstrate how Harmony is using classical music instruction to help children realize their strengths, talents, and potential. The piece culminates with the children’s performance under the direction of Maestro Plácido Domingo at this year’s annual gala in January.