El Sistema through the Eyes of the Talented Tenth

And we’re off! The Abreu Fellows Program has gotten off to a dynamic start! We have had almost two months of fun filled learning in Boston and our knowledge of El Sistema is expanding rapidly. There are four main components of El Sistema that we often highlight in presentations: fun, excellence, performance and community building, so I will use them to share with you what life is like as an Abreu Fellow!

Fun!
Oh the fun we have as Abreu Fellows! Our days are filled with mind blowing seminars and conversations on El Sistema – what it is, what it looks like in the US, what contributions we will make to the field, etc. Our nights are filled with food, fellowship and yes, more great conversations. We spend an insane amount of time together, but we love every second of it!

Excellence!
A standard of excellence is the order of the day with the Fellows. Sessions are led by the brightest minds our country has to offer and the fellows themselves are simply amazing! It is comforting to know that together we have the power to bring great social change to our country through music. W.E. B DuBois wrote of the “Talented Tenth” of society to lead the people through education and social change.
The leaders of El Sistema are a Talented Tenth of sorts and I am proud to join in their efforts. Who knows where it will take me…

Performance!
My favorite part of being a Fellow is having the opportunity to visit and teach various ensembles in the area. The Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton is doing great things and I was honored to recently assist in preparing their choir for an upcoming performance. I can’t wait to go back and see how they’re doing!

Community Building!
As I learn more about El Sistema, I see it as less of a program or organization, but more of a family. Those of you that know me know that I love being adopted into new families! But this family is not exclusive to musicians or die-hard art enthusiasts. After all, implementing social change means bringing along the masses.
Here we are at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, introducing the future policy makers of America to El Sistema and the power of creative thinking. We thought, what better way to present El Sistema to these students than to have them actually experience the joy of ensemble. I was delighted to direct the class/choir in singing partner songs. It took some creativity on our part as well – room not big enough? No problem – move to the atrium! Can’t see the group you’re directing? No problem – stand in a chair! Working with non-musicians? No problem – meet them where they are! I’m a choir director that believes in equal opportunity! It turned out to be a beautiful evening. Special love to the inspiration behind this presentation – Lorrie Heagy

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