Joe Hamm


Joe Hamm is the Program and Media Manager and has worked to develop the program since its beginning in the Fall of 2009. As former Take A Stand YOLA Ambassador and contributing Presenter and Facilitator at the 2012 Social Action Through Music Symposium in Philadelphia, Joe has continued contributing to further the United States El Sistema movement. Most recently, Joe has Produced and Directed “Beyond The Music: Soundscapes, El Sistema and the Proven Power of Music,” a short film advocating for Soundscapes and the United States El Sistema movement. He is also chairing the National Programs Assessment Committee currently conducting the first census of El Sistema programs in the United States under the National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs.

Joe’s primary instrument is the drum set with performance experience including jazz, musical theater, pop rock, folk and indie electro.  In 2008 Joe’s band Chasing Arrows appeared on the nationally televised MTV-U Woodie Award show, nominated for best college band in the country. With Chasing Arrows, Joe recorded music and music videos, performed extensively and communicated with the band’s management based in New York City. Chasing Arrows was shopped to Sony, Epic, EMI among numerous major labels by management during the decline in the major label budgets. Despite the disbanding of Chasing Arrows in April 2012, Joe continues to compose, record, and perform original music. He is currently performing with Jake Hull and the Great Victory, in studio with Lux Nova and writing beats for hip hop/rap artists with a production team in downtown Norfolk. Joe resides in Norfolk, Virginia and enjoys surfing, urban paddleboarding, burritos and the occasional yoga class. Joe Hamm earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.

Connections/Expertise w/ El Sistema-inspired programs
Joe began working with Soundscapes in Newport News, Virginia in 2009 as the bucket band instructor.  Over the years, Joe’s responsibilities within the organization have included, Percussion Teaching Artist, Program Manager, and currently is acts as the Program and Media Manager.  In his current position, he acts as the site coordinator for the Elementary and Middle School programs at Carver Elementary, facilitates the creation of a monthly e-newsletter, and creates marketing media such as videos to further grow the recognition of the organization.

In addition to his work at a local level, Joe has been very active nationally.  He suggested the formation of the National Programs Assessment Committee, where he and other board members called and emailed El Sistema Inspired Programs to gather programmatic and administrative information on most of the programs within the United States.  He presented the findings at the Take A Stand Conference in Los Angeles in 2014.  Joe has also help co-lead the Teaching Artist portion at the 2012 Social Action Through Music Symposium held in Philadelphia, PA.

Special skills/professional expertise/resources/connections that the candidate would bring to the board
Joe is well versed in the history of the El Sistema development within the United States.  He is a master at creating Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGS) which allow people to see a bigger grander future.  Joe is well known within the United States El Sistema community, especially through his work with the National Programs Assessment Committee.

Why the candidate wishes to serve on the board
In the last five years my work with Soundscapes has been both meaningful and impactful. Children who began their elementary careers hiding under desks earned medals for their five years of dedication to music. They are one step closer to graduation, and hopefully more steps away from a life of struggle. The time I have spent both in the classroom and managing the program on a local scale have developed my sense of purpose and instilled a desire to create more opportunity for children nationwide.

El Sistema in the United States is a star in the sky of many different initiatives currently in effect to disrupt the cycle of poverty, but we have something different. We can say with confidence that music making approach of El Sistema is effective and that deserves widespread recognition. Music study and performance actively builds an array of skills including but not limited to social, emotional, and executive functioning skills – all of which are necessary to live a happy, healthy, and productive life. There are many more families throughout our country that could benefit from music making, and they should all have the opportunity.

The National Alliance has the potential to create opportunity on a level unattainable by one single program. I would like to dedicate time to this cause and contribute my skills and perspective to the National Alliance by serving on the board of directors. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to working along side you in the future. 

-Joe Hamm

“Let me strongly express my support for Joe in this capacity. I frequently cite Joe as the foremost exemplar of practitioner-leadership in the field. I have worked with him on several projects and have been deeply impressed by his commitment, determination, vision, and ability to keep his eye on the right prize and see things through.  I trust his honesty and dedication to student-centered goals. I can’t imagine a stronger new contributor to bring onto your board.”

– Eric Booth

“I heartily endorse Joe Hamm’s candidacy for the board of the National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs.  Joe is an exemplary teacher and leader at the Soundscapes in Virginia and has already contributed significantly to the US El Sistema movements though presentations at regional and national gatherings, managing regional seminaries, and leading a successful project to gather data from programs throughout the country.  I can’t imagine a more qualified young leader in our movement to serve on the NAESIP board.”

– Mark Churchill
Founder, El Sistema USA
Dean Emeritus of Preparatory and Continuing Education and Senior Advisor,  New England Conservatory

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