Saturday, November 6, 2010

Excellence guided learning / Performance as a tool for teaching

Excellence guided learning is what El Sistema is all about. This is one of the things that we have to establish in our future nucleos. The standard of excellence has to be established and maintained at all possible levels, from the director, all the way down to the individual student.

In a nucleo setting, standard of excellence is established by having high expectations early-on. The most important part of making sure that excellence is achieved may very well be in how these high expectations are handed to students. The word 'scaffolding' has come up a lot in our seminars and we have been talking about the idea of high expectations through manageable goals. This has everything to do with scaffolding. We have to remember that the smaller more attainable goals that we give to students still display a standard of excellence at every level.

Soon we will be heading to Baltimore to visit ORCHkids which is a nucleo attached to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I am curious to see how the Symphony Orchestra Model works, especially since I will be deciding this year what model I would like to work with or build. What I am most interested to see in Baltimore is how standard of excellence is being upheld.

Our week in Baltimore is going to be spent preparing a performance with the students of ORCHkids. This is important because another key in the success of El Sistema is the use of performance as a tool for teaching.  This week a great question was asked in our Friday afternoon debrief and I would like to pose it to all of you:

How can music education happen on a stage?

In Venezuela, students perform a lot. In a standard nucleo, performance is used as a tool to teach. When we head to Baltimore to work with ORCHkids, we will be doing just that. I would love to hear your comments on this and look forward to reporting back to you on how our week in Baltimore turns out, so let's share 'Notes'

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