From a seat aboard Copa Airlines’ flight 229 to Panama City

A journey has begun—not the journey—but a journey nonetheless. It’s a Friday evening eight weeks deep into my third winter quarter here at Northwestern, but I’m not studying in Kresge, attending a student group meeting in Norris, or participating in my sorority’s big-little reveal. I’m sitting in seat 20A embarking on a trip to the summer music camp of FUNSINCOPA: Fundación Sinfonía Concertante de Panamá. For the next six days, I will live and work alongside music education specialists from numerous locations across the globe, teaching violin and viola to young students, and piloting the methodology for my summer research.

Exactly four months from tomorrow, I will begin the journey around the globe. I will soon be travelling to six countries—England, Greece, Kenya, India, the Philippines, and New Zealand—over a period of thirteen weeks. Flights have been purchased, so it’s officially official. I’m going. I’ve got numerous logistics to work to out between now and then, though, associated with housing and budget finalizations, visas, and countless other things. While it feels as though there’s a mountain of work (not to mention winter finals and all of spring quarter) standing between me and my journey, before I know it I’ll be abroad and researching what I love.

If you know me, you’ve most likely heard about El Sistema. If you don’t know me, here’s your chance to learn more: El Sistema originated in Venezuela in the 1970s with the goal of promoting social change through the medium of music education. Since its origination, hundreds of programs have been developed all across the world. Over the course of thirteen weeks this summer, I will examine multiple approaches to El Sistema at eight different organizations in order to learn more about best practices in music education, advocate for a more culturally understanding pedagogy, and ultimately promote social change through music.

Hopefully some of that sparked your interest, and I welcome you follow my blog and join me on this El Sistema Expedition!