Camerata Larense is a professional, award-winning choir from Barquisimeto, Lara. The ensemble is made up of dedicated El Sistema teachers and students who model fantastic musicianship. The choir regularly tours internationally and if you ever have the chance to attend a performance, be sure not to miss it! For more information visit http://www.cameratalarense.org
In November of 2013, the great choral conductor, Maria Guinand, led an intensive three-day workshop in Barquisimeto for members of Camerata Larense and other El Sistema instructors from the region. It was an honor to be able to participate along side these devoted educators through inspiring and exciting sessions ranging from repertoire exploration to technical study.
When Eric Booth asked me to write a short article for The Ensemble about specific practices in Venezuela that might serve as guiding beacons for U.S. programs to follow, I immediately thought of my experience working with these teachers and the immense sense of generosity they demonstrated. Here is a very short piece published in the February 2013 issue of The Ensemble.
Generosity: in collaboration, in empathy, in working toward a higher cause.
For three days this past November, choral teachers from the state of Lara came together to workshop new pieces, explore pedagogic styles, and share in the successes and challenges of everyday teaching.
The breadth of experiences these educators shared and the honesty in their discussion was electrifying. Here were teachers working with different populations of children, resource levels, settings and methodologies. As they shared their stories with one another, it was clear they were forming common bonds, uniting as a team working towards attainable, mutual goals.
When Luis, a novice choir instructor, spoke of his struggles with conducting, his colleagues were quick to chime in with supportive tips and personal anecdotes. “It starts with the eyes,” shared Maria Guinand, the country’s most esteemed and renowned choral conductor, as she led the entire group in an expert lesson on body language.
Infused in all of this sharing was a sense of generosity of experience. And there was joy in the sharing. Detailed stories spanning Claudia’s frustrations with student behavior to Gustavo’s triumphs in performance were met in an exchange of empathy and laughter. Ego was left at the door, and filling its place was humility, openness, and a willingness to face and learn from failure. I watched as the most respected, seasoned professionals took time to work with new recruits, and I wondered how we might better emulate this experience, this generosity, back home.
There are extraordinary and diverse music education programs in our country and a palpable spirit of collaboration is already underway. While time and resources may be spread thin, focusing on the sharing of experience may lighten the heavy loads we carry. Through commitment to developing engaging and accessible partnerships, we may better explore the joy found in this generosity and the powerful possibilities of alliance.