During the week of July 23-27, 2012, Play On, Philly! collaborated with Villanova University through its El Sistema in Action! Graduate course. Approximately 15 administrators and teachers from as far as Washington State, Jacksonville, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania spent an intense week learning about, researching and teaching during Play On, Philly’s last week of our 5 week summer session.
The workshop focused on the implementation of El Sistema's philosophy into one of the United States’ most celebrated El Sistema-inspired programs. Participants were immersed into the learning environment by leading group lessons and rehearsals from chamber ensembles, string orchestras, wind ensembles, and the Play On, Philly! Symphony Orchestra in preparation for the final concert of the POP season at Villanova. Insights were gained from El Sistema graduates, POP Teaching Artists, and staff on program implementation, lesson planning and curriculum development.
In addition to the teaching of the POP students first hand, insights were gained from El Sistema graduates, POP Teaching Artists, and staff on program implementation, lesson planning and curriculum development.
This intense coursework covered the following topics and discussions:
Introduction and Evolution of POP
This portion of the course was an introduction of El Sistema philosophy, Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, context and philosophy of POP. A discussion of the challenges, successes and evolution of the program took place as well as its teaching methods from the perspective of the Teaching Artist. Development of curriculum and the concept of lesson planning as it applies to POP were studied. Impressions and thoughts were welcomed from participants about observations in the classrooms.
El Sistema Panel Discussion
Local El Sistema graduates and Stanford Thompson, CEO of POP, discussed their experiences in Venezuela. Video clips with first hand experience were shown and El Sistema graduates were given an opportunity to comment from their own experience.
Teaching Artist Panel Discussion
The POP Teaching Artists shared their backgrounds and teaching at POP and also led a Question and Answer session on what was observed by participants. POP Teaching Artist, Gabriel Globus-Hoenich, led a group activity based on body percussion.
Advocacy/Building a Program
Stanford Thompson guided a conversation on gaining resources and building a program. Focus was placed on the infrastructure of this program and how that knowledge could be applied to the participants’ own work. Discussion ensued about how additional resources could be built for their own programs, including measurement tools.
Final Concert for Play On, Philly!
The week of learning ended at Villanova University for the final concert of Play On, Philly’s 2011-2012 Season with music by Bartok, Marquez, Bach, Sousa, Brahms and Holst.
Our goals for the week were to help all who participated learn more about the essence of the El Sistema philosophy, gain insights into how these ideas can be put into their own situations and share the spirit and history of POP through first hand experience. The POP staff learned much from the Villanova participants with their varied experience and knowledge as well.
Written by a Villanova Course Participant from Jacksonville, Florida:
“You are an amazing team of people! The program you’re developing, the kids and their level of playing, your obvious commitment to it, and the kind and generous spirit with which you seem (all of you) to operate it all has been a true joy to watch this week. The workshop was well planned with plenty of activity, involvement, opportunities to share, time to get to know one another, great information provided and really helpful hands-on time spent with kids…I learned so much from your Venezuelan guests as well…It was all fun, entertaining and I wouldn’t trade this week’s experience for anything!”