Book Review: Playing for their Lives

This review originally appeared in the February 2017 edition of the European String Teacher Association (ESTA) Journal. In 2009, before I left for Venezuela to work with its national orchestra network, better known as El Sistema, Tricia Tunstall presented me with a copy of her piano memoir Note by Note. One evening on my travels … Continue reading Book Review: Playing for their Lives

To confer and to confront

I miss the old days, when doing a conference entailed sequencing a few heart-warming anecdotes from Venezuela, and where the only challenge was choosing the right tone and tenor to leave the audience bathed in moral elevation having heard firsthand the power of music. I particularly missed those days at 3am last Wednesday morning when … Continue reading To confer and to confront

A little less conversation, a little more…

Of the many quotes of the eminently quotable British Statesman Sir Winston Churchill, the one that seems to have the most currency today is his statement that “Democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried.”  This wry cynicism may be attributable to Churchill’s personal view of Democracy, … Continue reading A little less conversation, a little more…

When Sistema isn’t as easy as pie

On the drive back from the Reframing El Sistema conference in Baltimore, my students and I stopped for pie in Washington DC. Over a very delicious and savoury slice of steak and chile (really) I took the opportunity to ask a freshman cellist what she had thought of the conference. Her response was brutal: “I … Continue reading When Sistema isn’t as easy as pie