Music Unites the World Festival - Virtual Ensemble
Even amidst these uncertain times, Education Through Music-Los Angeles remains resolute and unwavering in our commitment to provide high-quality music instruction to disadvantaged, low-income students across Los Angeles. Nearly one hundred students from ETM-LA partner schools enrolled in the two-week Virtual Summer Program where they enjoyed learning and fun while participating daily in virtual strings ensemble, band, or general music and vocal instruction courses.
Each day began with a “Health and Wellness Through Music” session led by Music Teacher and Therapy Specialist Ricardo Hurtado, during which students shared their feelings, performed movement exercises, and learned ways to stay healthy during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The students then continued onto their specialized classes, which ranged from playing the blues to playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” as well as music theory, conducting technique, and songwriting using Soundtrap and GarageBand.
The students eagerly learned how to play new instruments and expanded their skills on their current instruments. They were especially glad to have the opportunity to see their friends and classmates again, even if it was virtually. Student Ethan said, "I like that I can be in a band with my friends who are also playing different instruments. It's like we are on a team!" Audrey from Castelar Elementary added, “Playing music makes me feel happy, relaxed, and excited. My favorite part about summer program is playing different instruments and genres of music."
Special guests made surprise appearances throughout the two weeks, including Harpist Gayle Levant, who has played and recorded with major artists including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, and Stevie Wonder, and on hundreds of film and TV projects. Levant shared stories about her illustrious career. When student Ingrid asked if she ever felt nervous when meeting a celebrity, Levant replied only once, “during a recording session with Frank Sinatra, but only because the harp hadn’t arrived at the studio on time!” She also offered advice to the students: “Love what you do, then it will never be work.”
Parents, siblings, and even pets excitedly joined in on the fun at home too! Sally, an ETM-LA parent, shared: “With the stay-at-home orders, they haven't had much engagement... This class gave [the students] a fun, interactive, and educational opportunity to express themselves through communication, music, and dance. We wish it could be all summer!”
The Virtual Summer Program came on the heels of ETM-LA’s 10th Annual Music Unites the World Festival, which premiered on Facebook and YouTube. The virtual festival showcased the power of music and community to bring people together from across the globe. Co-hosted by Actor/Musician Ricardo Hurtado (Nickelodeon’s School of Rock; Netflix’s Malibu Rescue) and Singer/Actress Bridget Barrera (Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place; ABC’s Cristela), festival highlights included interactive music activities — such as a class led by Percussionist Arthur Thompson (Dave Koz) — heartfelt student readings of personal essays, and first-ever ETM-LA virtual choir and instrumental performances.
This past school year, ETM-LA pivoted to provide distance learning instruction and resources to approximately 17,500 students across LA County. In our upcoming 15th year of programming, your support will help ETM-LA continue closing the gap for low-income area schools that remain deprived of in-school, yearlong music and arts programs. We are standing alongside our schools through this difficult time, and we are more resolved than ever in our mission to support equity and access in providing quality music education.
Thank you to those who have generously given to help provide important music education services to disadvantaged schools, and to students like Ethan, Audrey, and Ingrid!
ETM-LA provides quality, yearlong, in-school music instruction in disadvantaged Los Angeles schools as part of the core curriculum for every child. Since its founding in 2006, ETM-LA has grown to serve approximately 17,500 students at 42 partner schools in Los Angeles County.