04. January 18, 2012

January 18, 2012 – 11:30am-1:00pm EST

On the call: Beth Babcock, Marie Montilla, Mark Surridge, Mark Churchill, Delia Raab-Snyder, Jennifer Blank, Bob Fiedler, Margaret Martin, Patrick Slevin, Louise Lanzilotti, Stanford Thompson, Katie Wyatt, Lee Jones, Leni Boorstein, Louise Ghandi

Agenda for this call:

  • Definition of Core Membership – What is the primary mission of the organizations represented by core members?  What is their target population served?  What are their shared fundamental elements of intervention/approach?
  • Definitions of Auxiliary Membership – Will there be additional allowed members beyond core membership?  What will the categories of these additional members be?
  • Mission of Association  What is the primary purpose of the Association?
  • Name – What should the Association be called?
  • General Governance – What will be the voting rights of each category of Association membership? What will be the size and general composition of the board?

Results of the Survey – Beth Babcock

There were 20 responses overnight. They show remarkable consistency in these areas:

1. What is the primary mission – both music education and social change as concurrent missions (16)

Comment – should be “social change through music” (Margaret) – consensus of the group, it seems

2. Delivery of service – ensemble based primarily (strong majority)

Comment – yes, emphasis on it but without precluding other forms (Margaret)

3. Whom should be served – children with access barriers to other programs (57.9%), and/or financial access barriers (21%)

As a group of respondents, we felt the mission should be to provide social change through access to (primarily ensemble based) music programs for children with access barriers

4. Charges? – need based if there are charges; or no charge; or consider financial need

So, about 95% of us felt that ability to pay is vital to the member organizations.

Comment – (Mark in St. Louis) – sometimes different levels of pay create a second-class feeling among those who don’t pay

Comment – (Margaret) – no charge for all students; the higher level ensembles are open to those who could afford to pay, but no one does actually pay

Beth said we need to be clear about our policy about serving children with need will help with potential funding.

Comment – (?) perhaps those who can pay would help to subsidize the programs

Beth commented that the vast majority of the existing programs do serve children with great financial need.

5. Making programs financially accessible should be core, BUT the ways this occurs may vary.

Areas of significant difference:

  1. intensity of instruction – how many hours weekly? – (60%) some level of hours should matter

15+ –
10+ – largest group felt this
5 –

shouldn’t matter –

none of the above –

There is a feeling that the number of hours does correlate positively with social change and musical goals.

Comment – (Margaret) We’re not just talking about intensity of the program, but also about the number of students that can be served. Her program has a basic five hour week, but offers more hours of instruction that many kids opt into.

Comment – (Bob from Chicago) How important is it to be an El Sistema-inspired program? He feels we’re dancing around this question.

Comment – (Mark) It can be a challenge to get sustained buy-in from kids during the school year – easier during the year.

13 of 47 US programs surveyed by the Fellows teach fewer than six hours per week.

Comment – (Margaret?) Even in Venezuela there is tremendous variability in the number of hours children participate, by neighborhood, class, etc.

Comment – (Leni) we are still early in understanding the affect. The major contrast is between our programs and former programs that were one or two hours per week. The social imperative of our work leads us toward immersion.

Comment – we all intend to inspire students to aspire musically; would like to add that we commit to children for their entire school life. How to bring kids in from the waiting list, etc. What is the best you can do for the most kids and get the needed social outcome.

Comment (Bob) – gets asked how this methodology is different from traditional Western classical programs and/or after school programs – intensity and ensemble-based programming.

Comment – funders would look at this program differently depending on how much we’re spending per child.

Comment (Bob) – his school has always been based on changing children’s lives, but the El Sistema based program goes more deeply because of several factors – 15 hours a week, orchestra based, etc.

Comment (Mark) – has been troubled for some time by people who want to use the moniker but aren’t necessarily doing the entire program as needed; in kind contributions can increase hours without increasing cost

Beth – this will be a core question to deal with. The group so far has focused on El Sistema as the inspiration, focus, etc. However, the definition of “El Sistema-inspired programs” has been vague so far.

Margaret – we should be mindful that close to 30% of respondents reported less that 6 hours per week. We might keep aspirational targets, rather than eliminating

Katie – would prefer to begin with a smaller group of El Sistema-inspired programs, then opening it up later

Mark – the definition of an El Sistema group should be narrow – he would prefer having different levels of membership to attain

Marie – the beginning of a nucleo may occur with fewer hours, smaller size – they grow into a larger state over time

Stanford – it’s difficult to look at ES now and forget how it began; there needs to be a group that creates momentum, develops more shared resources for others so they can begin well; an association will share best practices, help us all to aspire to greater levels of success

Louise – would like to see a core membership for those who have more intense programs, with others benefitting from all of the resources, becoming core members as they grow

Beth – one solution (as above) can be levels of membership; another can be certification – all members are full members, but only some become “certified” – this is a common solution for many associations

Bob – in Venezuela, there’s no other game in town, whereas there are a lot of other music education programs in America, so we do need to define this movement

Rest of Conversation – 

Beth – associations are often designed to include a large group of people with varying opinions who can come together and share those opinions, and develop a strong association. We need to find a way to do this, and Beth will be working on that.

Purpose – there was no agreement on a single #1, but many comments about all of the points being important. Basically, though, this was the order:

  1. Developing shared outcomes data
  2. Providing opportunities for sharing expertise, etc.
  3. Providing tools and resources for program evaluation
  4. Creating shared tools and shared resources for program delivery
  5. Creating a platform for shared public advocacy
  6. Obtaining new sources of funding
  7. Establishing minimum basic standards or guidelines
  8. Creating better public awareness – shared materials, etc.
  9. Creating opportunities for public performance
  10. Creating

The nature of the programs will need to be well-defined so that 1-4 are effective.

Margaret – the underlying theme seems to be telling the story in an effective manner in order to obtain funding.

Beth – we care as much about telling the story to ourselves. In fact the internal story came first in our minds. – getting it right

Patrick (Austin) – visitors are interested in the larger picture of the network. Telling the group story will be really helpful even on the local level.

Stanford – yes, the larger picture helps a great deal with going for funding. Philly has a lot of good success with this. This could be one of the most important elements to help us find more resources.

Patrick – programs in smaller towns will definitely benefit from this kind of connection to the larger picture.

Next step  – before next week’s call, there will be another survey, based on ideas that have come up and on things we haven’t discussed yet. Please email Stanford if you have questions that should go into the survey – email him by the end of the week.

The data and the survey will be sent out before next week’s call, and the call will focus on definition of membership and on mission/purpose of the association. A summary will be presented in LA in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, we will gather lots of comments there and can move into the mechanics of developing the association.

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