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 Post subject: Article on YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:48 am 
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Here is a nice item which appeared in today's LA Times newspaper. It deals with the educational outreach programs inspired by "El Sistema" which helped to develop talent such as incoming Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel. We can use all the positive stories we can get, especially on a Monday morning!

The slideshow (with narration and testimonies) was especially evocative, and is located here.

=======================================

Philharmonic plants Youth Orchestra seed

By Joanna Lin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 14, 2008

A few weeks ago, Edson Natareno was counting down the days of summer -- not in dread, but in anticipation. For the 10-year-old, the start of school meant the start of a new orchestra season.

"I'm excited for clarinet practice again," said the fifth-grader at Dr. Theodore T. Alexander Science Center School. "I want to play well and get better."

Edson is one of about 150 members of the nascent Youth Orchestra L.A., the Los Angeles Philharmonic's effort to establish youth orchestras in underserved areas of the city.

Youth Orchestra L.A. -- YOLA for short -- turns the traditional youth orchestra model "completely on its head," said Gretchen Nielsen, the Philharmonic's director of educational initiatives. Whereas most youth orchestras select only the best musicians and sometimes charge fees, YOLA gives free instruments and lessons, signing up everyone it can, she said.

For parents such as Angel González, YOLA offers children more than just music. His son Daniel, 13, plays the trumpet, and daughter Genesis, 10, the violin, and both sing in a choir run by YOLA's partner, the Harmony Project. González said the orchestra began as something to keep the kids busy. But then his children grew more disciplined, watched less TV and voluntarily practiced their instruments.

"I don't have to tell them anything, they just go," he said. "They go to their rooms and start playing themselves."

Philharmonic Chief Executive and President Deborah Borda said instilling self-starting behavior in kids is one of the program's goals. Music education, she said, "will roll over and spill over into other parts of their lives. It's the ability to concentrate, the ability to learn, the ability to work well with a group, the ability to stick with something."

The youth orchestra was hatched in spring 2007, drawing inspiration from the Philharmonic's incoming music director, Gustavo Dudamel, the most heralded graduate of Venezuela's El Sistema. That program, funded by the government's health department, brings free instruments and orchestras to mostly disadvantaged Venezuelan children.

Both programs see music as an "agent of change," Borda said, but YOLA is still learning how to address L.A.'s needs.

"We cannot make an exact carbon copy of what happens in Venezuela," she said.

Still in its pilot stage, the program has started with one orchestra. The students, ages 7 to 16, come from some 20 public, private and parochial schools in central Los Angeles. YOLA is targeting locations and partners for new orchestras, Nielsen said.

For now, YOLA organizers are learning from their current orchestra, which rehearses at the city's Expo Center near the Coliseum, to turn what has been more like an ensemble into a full orchestra by January. At this stage, the orchestra is heavy on flutes, trumpets and violins because they are easier to learn and play. More complex instruments will be introduced gradually.

Misael Ontiveros, 10, carefully weighed his options when he joined YOLA a year ago. He listened to every instrument, choosing the clarinet.

"I like that it has a lot of notes, and the sharp notes are easier to play than other instruments," he said.

Misael, a student at Nativity School, aspires to bigger orchestras but recognizes a downside to his chosen instrument: "Mexican music and hip-hop -- there's no clarinet in those."


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 Post subject: Re: Article on YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:43 pm 
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Awesome. Actually, Dr. Diana Hollinger, my advisor at San Jose State did her dissertation on "El Sistema," and I've seen her lecture on this a few times, most recently today! It's really a phenomenal thing that's happening in Venezuela, and it's really awesome that they are trying to get something similar started in L.A.

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 Post subject: Re: Article on YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 5:55 am 
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Actually, the music educator in me is divided on this. It is great to have all of these kids(150 mentioned in the article) involved over the geographic area of Los Angeles. But I wonder if all of the LA schools offered a solid orchestral program, would there not be a few more kids involved. How many schools in LA???? times 20-30 kids involved at each school????? It just seems like the magnet school concept....cut funding for 100 schools, maintain funding for 1 (Magnet) and see your total involvement drop from thousands to maybe a hundred. :?


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 Post subject: Re: Article on YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:09 pm 
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supermutant wrote:
Actually, the music educator in me is divided on this. It is great to have all of these kids(150 mentioned in the article) involved over the geographic area of Los Angeles. But I wonder if all of the LA schools offered a solid orchestral program, would there not be a few more kids involved. How many schools in LA???? times 20-30 kids involved at each school????? It just seems like the magnet school concept....cut funding for 100 schools, maintain funding for 1 (Magnet) and see your total involvement drop from thousands to maybe a hundred. :?


As someone who worked in the LA Unified for a few years, I've seen what a LARGE and EXPENSIVE undertaking it would be for every school to fund, teach and administrate an orchestral program... we are really far away from this being something feasible that the LAUSD could support.

But, it seems like they have not put any limit or cap on the number of students they are taking into this program supported by the LA Philharmonic. I think a program like this taking flight and being very successful in inner city Los Angeles could be an impetus for change and for more programs like this at the HS level.

I think you are mistaken here though, the article doesn't say anything about cutting funding for orchestras at the high school level to put it towards something like this... the funding was never there for something like this in the LAUSD to begin with.


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 Post subject: Re: Article on YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles)
PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:39 pm 
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The Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles is not a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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