The Ambassadors’ Exchange, Dec 2019

Axelle Miel, Philippines

“Bidirectional Learning”

I have recently started reading about the El Sistema philosophy of learning through ensembles, so I’ve been incorporating short and simple pieces into our weekly lessons so that the students can get a chance to play together. One challenge I have faced with this integration is having musicians of different levels of advancement work together on a single piece; some students get impatient while others struggle to keep up. For this, I’ve learned to pair students together so that they can learn from each other and assume a sense of responsibility for their playing.

We’ve also started to learn how to read notes with our newest short piece, and again students have paired up so that they can identify the notes in their sheet music. It is exciting to see students eagerly point out things they have already learned in the past and volunteer to lead parts of the lesson. Overall, I have started looking at teaching not only as a one-way teacher-to-student direction, but also from student-to-student and student-to-teacher as well. The insights we gain from these relationships are just as valuable and organic, if not more so, as the learning accomplished by more traditional teacher-student interactions. 

Aurian White, New Zealand

Throughout November, we have been in full swing with our weekly sessions, and we are learning so much. Sistema Whangarei has started up a whanau (family) orchestra. There are about ten family members that the older Sistema students are now teaching to play the instruments, encouraging adults to take up the joy of music.

As December is a super busy month for most, we did our end-of-year concert for the families last month. They enjoyed seeing the progress of their children, and watching the more advanced students playing, in order to see where their children are heading musically. The Whanau Orchestra also took part in their first-ever performance.

We are all getting ready for the end of the year, and we want to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
I have recently started reading about the El Sistema philosophy of learning through ensembles, so I’ve been incorporating short and simple pieces into our weekly lessons so that the students can get a chance to play together. One challenge I have faced with this integration is having musicians of different levels of advancement work together on a single piece; some students get impatient while others struggle to keep up. For this, I’ve learned to pair students together so that they can learn from each other and assume a sense of responsibility with their playing.

We’ve also started to learn how to read notes with our newest short piece, and again students have paired up so that they can identify the notes in their sheet music. It’s exciting to see students eagerly point out things they have already learned in the past and volunteer to lead parts of the lesson. Overall, I have started looking at teaching not only as a one-way teacher-to-student direction, but also from student-to-student and student-to-teacher as well. The insights we gain from these relationships are just as valuable and organic, if not more so, as the learning accomplished by more traditional teacher-student interactions. 

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