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By Emie George, YOLA at HOLA Music Coordinator
NOVEMBER 10- BEVERLY HILLS, CA: HOLA holds their annual Holiday of the Heart event on November 10, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/HOLA via Bernstein Associates, Inc.)

Emie George, YOLA at HOLA coordinator

Hi Everyone! There is so much happening over in the music department. For one, our students have had the opportunity to apply to a national festival organized by Take a Stand. To give some context, the National Take a Stand Festival is a three-year project that began in 2015 with the creation of an International Teaching Faculty, who will serve as master teachers at two regional youth orchestra camps in 2016, culminating in a 7-day national youth orchestra camp in 2017, featuring a final performance led by LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. Throughout this project, world-renowned conductors, guest artists, and master teachers will bring their artistry and mentorship to students from communities across the United States who have been learning in El Sistema-inspired programs.

Students over the age of twelve were invited to apply for Take a Stand’s youth orchestra festival in Colorado this summer. For many of our 15 students who completed the rigorous application process, this was the first time they had the opportunity to audition for an opportunity like this.  If selected, students become an ambassador for YOLA at HOLA, travel out of the state, and experience some of the world’s finest learning institutions and concert venues. In order to apply, they had to submit videos of them playing their instrument and talking about YOLA at HOLA, their strengths, and the areas they want to improve. While we do not know how many students will be accepted, this was an amazing opportunity for all of our students who applied. They worked really hard and challenged themselves. It was great experience for them to learn the process of auditioning and to improve their musical skills as well as learn how to present themselves. One 9th grader, Allison Galindo, said filming herself playing was “nerve-wracking at first but once I got the hang of it, it was a cool experience.” The panel of teaching artists for Take a Stand is currently reviewing the applications, and will make decisions sometime in March. Whether or not our students get in, YOLA at HOLA staff and teachers are so proud of all the students who applied!

For Lisa, switching to the flute helped her stay committed to music.

We are also very proud of our five students who switched instruments recently. Last semester, we had a few students who were losing some of their focus and engagement with music. We took time to speak with them and figure out how to move forward, recognizing that this program is not for everyone. Through some of those discussions, it came out that they wanted to try a different instrument. We switched 5 students to new instruments and the results have been really amazing.  The students have come alive on their new instruments, are coming in extra hours to practice, and are so excited about the program. Ninth grader Lisa had been on the verge of quitting YOLA at HOLA due to the long commute from her high school in East Los Angeles and her lack of engagement in the cello class. When Lisa expressed interest in switching from the cello to the flute, we listened. We were happy to see her so excited about the opportunity to play flute, so we made it happen. Now, she says her knowledge of cello has actually helped her with the fingerings on flute.

Enrique seeing his new bass for the first time! A very very exciting moment.

When talking about her new wind instrument teammates, Lisa says “they’re fun to be around and they’re helpful when I’m struggling,” which helps make YOLA at HOLA more fun for her. Instead of quitting, Lisa now stays an hour extra on Saturdays to receive some 1-on-1 instruction from Monique Van Willingh, our Music Director who also happens to be an incredibly talented flutist. Enrique, a 6th grader at YOLA at HOLA, is another example. As a middle schooler, he was feeling lack of excitement about music and was losing steam with the program. When we had him sit in on the beginning bass class to see if he was interested, he got so excited that we knew we had to make it work. We actually had to track down a quarter-size bass just for him, but we made it happen because we care about Enrique and want to help keep our kids in this program! These transformations, and our students’ renewed excitement in music helps reaffirm how our process for helping students choose instruments is essential to our program.

We are so excited for these students and are glad that our teachers and staff could help set them up for success by finding the right instrument for them!


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