National Forum: Follow-Up and Discussion

Dear Friends,

The National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs (NAESIP) helped to convene a group of US El Sistema organizations and individuals to meet when the Executive Director of Fundamusical Simón Bolívar (El Sistema), Eduardo Mendez, offered to travel to Boston last month. This meeting was organized as the first step of many to open up a wider dialogue with all contributors to the field: local program directors, teachers, board members, and organizations of all sizes, who actively contribute to the growth of the El Sistema movement in the United States.

We deeply regret that our limited time and funds did not allow us to extend invitations to the 100+ programs and dozens of individuals and organizations who equally contribute to the shared success of the movement. Many people were in contact with NAESIP to express their feedback to this convening, and we enthusiastically encourage everyone to contribute to this ongoing discussion which was started in Cambridge last month.

We hope that you will take a moment to read the complete Meeting Notes from the National Forum and provide feedback through our online discussion forum. You can sign in using your Ning account (registration is free and open to anyone) or you can sign in using your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, or Yahoo! accounts. In addition to the online discussion forum, you can join one of the three upcoming conference calls, which will be hosted by members of the NAESIP Board of Directors. Those calls will be recorded for playback by anyone at anytime – instructions will be posted on the online discussion forum within 48 hours of the conference call dates below.

Meeting Notes Overview: The first two pages summarize Outcomes of our final discussion on Day Two. Pages 3-11 document the Process discussions we had during both days, leading up to our conclusions at the end of day two. Finally, page 12 is the Communication Plan for disseminating the proceedings of the Forum in a fully transparent and inclusive manner.

Online Discussion Forum:

Conference Calls: October 3, 8, and 10 from 12pm-1pm EST
Conference dial-in number: (760) 569-0111
Participant Access Code: 121767#

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at

National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs

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National El Sistema Forum

As you know the National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs was launched a few months ago, and we’re working very hard on the startup process. We’re very excited about the potential of the NAESIP to effectively serve the El Sistema movement in the US as do so many other wonderful organizations and individuals. To that end, we felt that forming cooperative understanding amongst major contributors on the national level to the growth of the El Sistema movement in the US could create a framework to multiply impact for all programs around the country.

In conversations with Mark Churchill, founder and director of El Sistema USA, we have been working closely together to realize a strong partnership between our efforts. As being the two initiatives that were formed to tie together and serve the needs of every aspiring program in the country, we found a lot of common ground and approached Fundamusical Simón Bolívar (El Sistema) about the current situation and future of El Sistema in the US. After meeting with Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu and Eduardo Mendez, the Executive Director of Fundamusical, we received the following statement from Maestro Abreu:

“At present, we have received support from different sources interested in developing and expanding El Sistema (in the U.S.A,) and we welcome all of them, hoping to build together the institutional solidity that is essential for the permanence and strengthening of this experience through the years. One of these sources is undoubtedly the NAESIP (National Association of El Sistema Inspired Programs), with its many members that represent the wide, rich and varied territory of the United States. The participation of the YOLA Longy-Bard alliance is an essential element of this association. The link between NAESIP and El Sistema USA, run by Mark Churchill, as an information and networking service is as well extremely valuable, as is the initiative of the monthly newsletter “The Ensemble”, led by Eric Booth and Tricia Tunstall. The New England Conservatory has likewise expressed its wish to continue with the Sistema Fellows experience, probably by diversifying it. Last but not least are isolated experiences that, hopefully, will become part of this multiple alliance that will assure a values-driven stable growth of El Sistema in the Unites States, impeding elitism and constructing a collective voice. Now the challenge is to think of a structure that could encompass all of them, although maybe it could be the NAESIP, by widening its membership”.

The message further stated that Eduardo Mendez “hopes to meet with you in Boston sometime in September, as well as with the rest of the Sistema-inspired initiatives in the U.S.A., in order to exchange ideas about future developments of El Sistema in your country.” It was clarified through further exchange that the Venezuelan leadership was looking to the Alliance to convene the major “Sistema-inspired initiatives” and that Eduardo Mendez was available to attend.

We felt that ongoing conversations would be necessary to properly exchange ideas about the needs and development of our field. Also it was clearly not feasible to convene all 100+ El Sistema-inspired programs on such short notice and would present several logistical challenges and not enough time for everyone to be heard. We moved forward to organize a preliminary National Forum for major national contributors to the movement in order to begin the conversation and plan for ways the entire field can communicate regularly, develop a strong sense of solidarity, and collectively address the future needs of the El Sistema movement. The September Forum will take place at Harvard University on September 17 and 18, and the attendees are listed below. Our agenda it to think through major challenges facing our movement, what we are doing individually to face them, and our ideas and hopes of how we best work together to further the overall mission.

We understand that there are many more people who could contribute to this conversation and have played important roles in the development of our field. We have our limitations on how many people our resources allow us to invite, but also felt that this diverse group could begin to build a consensus on our capacity to use our unique contributions in service of all programs in the country. We will publicly share the minutes from this meeting, which is being facilitated by Bill Nigreen. Bill was welcomed into the movement last year as a coach and evaluator for the Sistema Fellows program at NEC and has an ideal background for this role. We are confident in his thoughtful and knowledgeable facilitation will enable the work we aim to accomplish together.

We welcome your thoughts and questions about the Forum and invite you all to contribute to this evolving process. We wish you all success in your efforts this year!




Stanford Thompson 
Chair – National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs 
CEO – Play On, Philly!


Participants Expected to Attend
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
   Daniel Trahey
Jamie Bernstein
Eric Booth
El Sistema USA
   Mark Churchill (member of the NAESIP Executive Committee)
Fundamusical Simón Bolívar
   Eduardo Mendez
   Bolivia Bottome
   Patricia Diaz
Harmony Program
   Anne Fitzgibbon
League of American Orchestras
   Polly Kahn
   Jessical Balboni
National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs
   Stanford Thompson
   Richard Makumal
   Albert Oppenheimer
New England Conservatory
   Heath Marlow
   Virginia Hecker
Sistema Global
   Glenn Thomas
Take A Stand (LA Phil, Longy, and Bard)
   Karen Zorn
   Judy Bose
   Anna Verghese
Tricia Tunstall
Invited Guest with Regrets
Carnegie Hall
   Sarah Johnson
   Anne Gregg
San Diego Youth Symphony
   Dalougue Smith
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National Alliance Update

Dear National Alliance Members,

Last month we wrote to you as we were knee-deep in our strategic planning process and board development. Our eyes were a little bit bigger than the task of prioritizing the services and information which would best assist our members in the sustainability of existing initiatives, encouraging new initiatives, and garnering wider support for El Sistema-inspired programs nationally. Our Vice-Chair, Richard Mukamal, lead our strategic management committee in creating a sound plan to help us develop new initiatives while building upon the hard work of others in the field. As we develop these initiatives, we will need your active participation and feedback to ensure that we respond in real time to your needs. Richard could not have pulled off this enormous task without the help of the committee from the Board: Mark Churchill, Laura Jekel, Camille Kolles, and Anna Klimala-Pietraszko.

We are very happy to introduce our first three initiatives, of many to come:

The new Job Bank is a national resource of job opportunities and will occasionally post international positions. You’ll find teaching and administrative jobs at all levels, while connecting those passionate about social development through music education to opportunities in your programs.

To submit a job to this database, simply send an e-mail to with a link and/or PDF description of the administrative and/or teaching positions you have. I encourage you all to submit any open positons before Monday, June 3rd, before we publicly announce this resource to the field.

NAESIP Monthly Conference Calls
This summer (June through August), we plan to focus on program development and evaluation/research through a series of monthly conference calls. This will be an opportunity to talk with the most experienced leaders and researchers in the United States that are familiar with the development of El Sistema initiatives in the country. I would encourage you all to participate in these calls. There will be plenty of opportunities to share and learn from one another. Daniel Trahey (OrchKids Director) will lead the first call on program development and Dr. Steven Holochwost (Researcher at WolfBrown) will lead the first call on evaluation and research. We will soon announce the the entire summer schedule, but want you to set aside the following dates and times to participate. A reminder with conference call information will be supplied one week in advance.

  • Program Development w/ Dan Trahey – Tuesday, June 11th – 11:30am-1pm EST
  • Evaluation & Research w/ Dr. Steven Holochwost – Monday, June 25th – 11:30am-1pm EST

Data Collection
José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema, has often said that “El Sistema is not a system but a process.” He encourages all of us not to copy the work of El Sistema but to create solutions that fit the needs of our own communities throughout the United States and the world. In that spirit, we encourage all of the El Sistema inspired programs (the Process) to contribute to the Repertoire+Resource initiative by sharing repertoire, organizational documents, evaluation/research, and readings you have found to be helpful in your journey. It will be as useful as we all make it through our contributions. Here are several examples of what we are looking for:

  • Musical arrangements
  • Evaluation/Assessment reports
  • Organizational documents like sample budgets, contracts, logic models, and successful grant applications.
  • Articles, essays, and speeches
  • Suggested books
  • Curriculum & teaching resources

Email repertoire as PDFs or MIDIs, and resources as WORD documents or PDFs to


Stanford Thompson, Chair
National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs

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Launch of NAESIP

Dear National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs Members,

In November 2011, several leaders of El Sistema-inspired programs began a conversation about creating added value to our local efforts by working together to achieve shared goals. With the guidance of Beth Babcock and dedicated faith you all have shown in the planning phase, this Alliance is structured to achieve three primary goals: 1) to assist in the sustainability of existing initiatives by adding value to these programs; 2) to encourage and nurture new programs; 3) to garner support for El Sistema inspired programs nationally.

I am humbled that our colleagues have elected me as Chair of the Board and I look forward to building relationships with each one of you. On the Executive Committee of the Board, I am joined by Richard Mukamal from Crescendo Detroit as Vice-Chair, Rey Ramirez from Soundscapes in Newport News, VA as Treasurer, Aurelia Rocha from the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio as Clerk, and Mark Churchill as a Member. We are supported by a fine group of leaders who consist of the remainder of the Board: Eric Barth of the Kalamazoo Symphony’s Kids In Tune, Laura Jekel of MYCincinatti, Camille Kolles formerly of the Carmel Bach Festival and current consultant, Albert Oppenheimer of the Peoples Music School’s YOURS Project, Anna Pietraszko of the Miami Music Project, Delia Raab-Snyder of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s Tune Up Philly, Mark Sarich of Orchestra Diversity; El Sistema St. Louis, and Patrick Slevin of Austin Soundwaves.

We will have an involved process to fully launch the Alliance and we are working as quickly as possible to build upon the great work of the planning committees. By the end of this month, you can look forward to the following:

  • Contact from your regional representative to help facilitate your communication to the Board
  • Completion of our incorporation process
  • Preparation to file an application for non-profit status
  • Each Member will receive a confirmation of membership once their dues (if applicable) have been transferred and/or deposited into our bank account.
  • A detailed plan of our first strategic steps based upon the priorities discussed in planning and needs addressed by our board.

I look forward staying in contact with all of you over the coming weeks as the work of the Alliance takes shape.

Stanford Thompson, Chair
National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs

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Board Nomination Process Now Open

The time has come to begin nominating talented individuals to stand for election to the Board of Directors of the National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs.

Between now and January 25, the National Alliance will accept nominations by Active Program Members. These nominations will be posted on this website until January 31, at which point voting on the new board by Active Program Members will commence. Voting will close on February 3, 2013, and the new board will then be announced and commence its work on behalf of the new Alliance.

In order to facilitate the nominations process, a national conference call to address questions about nominations, voting, and the expected nature of board service will be held on January 17, from 11:30-1:00 PM (EST) and the dial in number will be 760-569-0111, conference id number 121767#.

Although only Active Program Members may nominate to and vote on the Board of Directors, all friends of the Alliance (whether members or not) are strongly encouraged to think of talented supporters of El Sistema inspired programs who might make wonderful board members and to contact current Active Program Members to make their suggestions known. One does not have to be on the staff and/or board of an Active Program Member in order to serve on the Board of the National Alliance; one only has to be nominated by an Active Program Member. So, if you think that you, or someone else you know would make a good board member, but you are not an Active Program Member and do not know the name and contact information for one, please feel free to check the listing of current Active Program Members on the National Alliance website or contact the National Alliance registrar, Ben Fuller at

Each Active Program Member is permitted to nominate one board member candidate and just as a reminder, the suggested characteristics of good candidate nominees are people who:

  • Are prepared to consistently commit time to supporting the start-up of the new Alliance. There will be numerous scheduled conference-call meetings and need for volunteer support and expertise of many kinds. There will also likely be a couple of face-to-face board meetings each year and the board will work to try to be sure that the costs associated with such meetings are born by the Alliance, but there will be no other compensation for board members’ time.
  • Are very familiar with the needs and nature of El Sistema Inspired Programs and the children they serve. The work of the Alliance will be to bring together the resources of all El Sistema Inspired Programs to strengthen each other and create a powerful new national tool to support the movement. Therefore, it will be imperative that all board members are familiar with the priorities, resources, and needs of the programs.
  • Are capable of thinking on national scale and of putting the good of all programs as a priority along with local needs.
  • Have professional expertise they are willing and eager to share. The board will need many skill sets in order to do its work well. Recommended skill-sets (in no particular order) include: prior board experience, music education skills (especially in El Sistema programs), management/leadership, finance, fundraising/philanthropy, advocacy, and public relations/marketing.

If you have any questions or concerns about the process outlined above, please do not hesitate to contact either Beth, Stan, or Ben. We are happy to help in any way we can!

Until then, best wishes for a terrific New Year filled with music,

Beth and Stan, Volunteer Facilitators National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs

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Founding Registration for the National Alliance Extended

Dear Friends,

After our last mailing, we heard from a few of you that your registration for the National Alliance is in process, but has been delayed due to Hurricane Sandy and/or other complications. You requested the National Alliance to extend the registration deadline for Founding Membership by at least a couple of weeks. We are therefore keeping the founding membership registration open until Sunday, November 18.

However, we need to remind you that only Founding Active Program Members in good standing will be permitted to vote to approve the By-laws of the new Alliance. This vote is expected to take place as soon as Founding Member Registration is closed. When the By-laws are approved, then only Active Program Members in good standing will be permitted to nominate members to the Board of Directors from their programs and vote in the board elections. Programs will have to be registered by the time of the board elections to hold a seat on the board. This nomination and election process is expected to take place within the next month and a half. Although dozens of programs and supporters have already joined The National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs, it needs the strongest board leaders possible to guide this powerful new collaboration, so please, if you have not already done so, join your colleagues and register soon.

Registration materials are available on this website and dues payments should not serve as a barrier to membership. If you are concerned about dues requirements or have any other questions about registration, please contact the Alliance Registrar, Ben Fuller, at

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Guiding Documents for the new Associaiton

The proposed by-laws, ratification plans, and implementation plans can be downloaded below. These documents were compiled by Beth Babcock from various volunteer committees over the spring and summer of 2012.

Ratification Plan

Implementation Plan

By-laws of the National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs

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