Meet Longy's Master of Arts in Teaching students

Members of this program have traveled to Los Angeles from across the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. While all of our students are passionately pursuing a career in music that merges teaching, artistry, and socially conscious work, our MAT students bring a diversity of teaching experience and training to the program. Many hail from some our country’s greatest conservatories—including USC’s Thornton School of Music, Oberlin, and Longy—and others arrive already involved with El Sistema-inspired music education experience.

A hallmark of the program, all students will begin the MAT with a week-long intensive course modeled after Bard’s signature Writing and Thinking workshop. Here they will examine core beliefs and assumptions about music and education, and will begin to build the sense of community integral to the MAT.

Housed at the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), the year-long MAT provides its students with an onsite practicum—a rare opportunity to teach and learn in one place. Combining this learning lab approach with fieldwork in nucleos and public schools throughout the region, the program provides a highly focused curriculum designed to prepare a new generation of educators committed to the values of El Sistema.

 

Class of 2018

Dylan Aguilera

Dylan Aguilera

Colorado born and Southern California raised, from high school band to the collegiate and freelance performance, Dylan Aguilera has lived a diversely musical life. He has been heard playing with the University of California Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (Principal), Wind Ensemble (Principal), Jazz Ensemble, Maurice Faulkner Brass Quintet, and the Santa Barbara Trombone Society. On top of these regular commitments, he has also performed at the Joseph Alessi Trombone Seminar in 2014 and was selected as a performer for the 2016 Pokorny Low Brass Seminar. When he is not performing, he has been found teaching at local elementary/high schools and working with the Pops Orchestra at UCSB, a student run organization which he and several other students have worked diligently to run and maintain. Now that he has completed his undergraduate study in Santa Barbara, he hopes that the MAT program will give him the knowledge and experience needed to maximize his aid to those in need.

Ilke Lea Alexander

Ilke Lea Alexander

Ilke Lea Alexander is from Johannesburg, South Africa, and has been active there as a music educator, flutist and composer for the past 6 years since graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. Having double specialized in performance and composition, discovering a deep interest for music education was a surprising direction for her. In 2012, Ilke was awarded a Centenary Grant from the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music in London, in order to spend a semester learning about pedagogy at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. This period sparked an interest in an approach to music education that was very different to the one she had received as a child: holistic and inclusive. Subsequently, Ilke attended the San Francisco International Orff Course from 2013- 2015, the Orff-Afrique Masteclass in Ghana, and the World Village seminar in Finland to further develop her skills as a music educator in this direction. This has become the focus of her work and a conduit for her activities as a composer and a flutist.

In 2009, Ilke co-founded the Music Enlightenment Project, a nonprofit providing affordable and inclusive music education for children from low-income backgrounds in central Johannesburg. She has been involved in curriculum development using the Orff Schulwerk approach and the informal training of university students as a way to further empower the surrounding community as well as the Music Enlightenment Project itself.

As a flute player, Ilke toured extensively with the MIAGI Youth Orchestra to Europe, played with renowned South African bassist Carlo Mombelli, and is a contributor to the band Msaki and The Golden Circle, an up and coming singer/ songwriter hailing from the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Through her composition, Ilke expresses an interest in contemporary classical and experimental music, and most recently completed a commission from the South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), composing a work for the Keiskamma Youth Orchestra inspired by interactions with Nharo San musicians in Botswana. Her music has been performed at the National Arts Festival in South Africa, and internationally on tour by the MIAGI Orchestra at venues such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Philharmonie in Berlin. She was the 2011 recipient of the ImpACT Award for Young Professionals from the Arts and Culture Trust. Through the MAT program at Longy School of Music at YOLA, Ilke hopes to further develop her skills as an educator and composer while learning about, and attaining skills relating to, organizational development and community building.

Olivia Breidenthal

Olivia Breidenthal

Olivia Breidenthal is a recent graduate of DePaul University. During her four years as a Violin Performance major, she studied with soloist Ilya Kaler and played in the DePaul Symphony Orchestra under the tutelage of Cliff Colnot. While in Chicago, she taught with the non-profit organization titled Music For Kids, and a local Chicago music school called Music House. Alongside studying music, Olivia also produced multiple comedy shows to raise money and awareness for the Reproductive Health Access Project. She is a newly appointed member of the violin faculty at the Neighborhood Music School in Arcadia, California. 

As a student in the MAT program, I look forward to expanding my experience in various classrooms and academic circumstances. I also look forward to gaining perspective from my fellow pupils. This program is exactly what the world needs, and I am honored to be a part of it. 

Xinying Chi

Xinying Chi

Xinying Chi graduated from Xiamen University who majored in Music Performance. She was interested in music since 6 months old. In her childhood, music plays a very important role. She became more confident and open-minded by playing piano and clarinet. After entering into Xiamen University, she chose clarinet as the major to continue the music development. During the campus life, she joined the campus orchestra and participated in a lot of music activities. She also got in touch with guitar which enriched her campus life.

She was an active participant in commonweal organizations. In 2010, she joined the "Grass-Inch Heart" activity, which is sponsored by one of commonweal organizations. She was assigned to play with some autistic children. It was not an easy job due to communication barrier between the children and her. She worked hard to improve the interaction and communication skills. On this account she had built up a great trust and relationship with the students. 

Besides, she also worked as a part-time music teacher in an elementary school in Xiamen. She cast about to make the classes more attractive and spark her students' interest including but not limited to lesson preparing and knowledge reservation. As to that, she was well respected by the students and admired by other teachers.

“I chose the MAT program in Longy as I took it as a great chance to learn new music conception and skill. After the program, I hope to be a professional music teacher and ready for next career challenge. If possible, I would like to work in schools of different levels, and help more children with special needs, such as ADHD, Autism and SPD so that they can return to normal school life.”

Timothy Cooley

Timothy Cooley

"My formal music training began the summer between my third and fourth grade year of school. The lessons were provided by a Title I program which was established through President Johnson’s, “War On Poverty.” The program  provided music training and an instrument, loan free for school aged children who were identified as being from an, “underprivileged family.” This program enabled me to experience many wonderful and exciting opportunities. Experiences such as teaching music in public and private schools, being Vice President of a record company, performances in both the United States and abroad, performing before Andrew Young - former Ambassador of the United States, and a standing ovation performance at Carnegie Hall!

The MAT program at Longy will afford me the opportunity to share my gift of music with children whose families face financial and social challenges just as my family did. Earning a master’s degree and a teaching credential simultaneously will provide me with valuable tools that will enable me to fulfill my life’s dream. My life dream is to teach music to children and young people from socially and economically challenged families so that they too may experience and have similar, and even more, opportunities that music training can provide, just as I have been blessed to receive."

Kristina Cooper

Kristina Cooper

Kristina Cooper graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University with a Bachelor of Music in violin performance. Through the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in grade school, she would speak and perform at public schools in inner city Chicago with her chamber group and educate children on the importance of music. She also grew up in the Chicago Public Schools and noticed how much the performing arts were lacking especially in schools located in lower income areas. She was mentored in grade school and high school by Rita Simo and realized firsthand how important the El Sistema system was for all children regardless of their socioeconomic status. She briefly taught violin in the Chicago Public School system for children ranging in age from four to seven. This solidified her observation that support for the arts is seriously lacking in public schools, even the good ones. She is excited to be a part of the MAT program because the skills and hands-on experience learned will help her grow as a musician and teacher and do her part with bringing music to children regardless of their financial means.

Flavia Pisco

Flavia Pisco

Flavia Pisco, violin, comes from a family of musicians. Her experience ranges from playing in professional orchestras lead by famous conductors like Ira Levin and Kurt Masur, to accompanying famous Brazilian popular singers, such as Roberta Sa and Ney Matogrosso.

Flavia finished her undergraduate studies at the University of Brasilia, in Brasilia, Brazil. Upon coming to the United States, Flavia studied at The Pennsylvania State University under the supervision of Dr. Max Zorin, where she received a full scholarship to complete her master’s degree in violin performance. In the spring of 2014, Flavia graduated from San Diego State University with an Artist Diploma degree in violin performance. While at San Diego State, Flavia was a Lieber-Flower scholarship recipient.

Flavia is part of Cuerdas del Mar violin and guitar duo. She teaches at the San Diego Youth Symphony and is part of the Opus Project in Chula Vista and Solana Beach.

When not teaching violin, you can find Flavia around San Diego and Baja California, looking great restaurants with new foods and great wine!

Albert Romero

Albert Romero

Albert Romero is a Los Angeles native who attended Los Angeles County High School of the Arts and earned a BFA and MA from the California Institute of the Arts. Albert has performed for the Santa Monica Symphony, Brentwood-Westwood Symphony, West LA Symphony, and Opera Santa Barbara. Most recently, Albert has been featured in the string section for Draco Rosa’s new album VIDA and has played in Marco Antonio Solis’ most recent concert tour.

James Sherry

James Sherry

James Sherry worked as a community organizer in New York and taught in the Chicago and Baltimore Public Schools. He studied music at Yale University and at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he received the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Trumpet. His undergraduate studies in History at Illinois State University, where he was named Program Scholar, inspired values of social justice and equity. Post-doctoral research at the University of Iowa, with a focus on a mindfulness-based approach to learning musicianship, inspired him to found the Mindful Music Academy, offering instruction with an emphasis on improvisation and the idea that all children are musically creative. As a conductor, multi-instrumentalist, improviser, and composer, he has performed on three continents and across the United States. He served as principal trumpet of the Bay-Atlantic Bridgeport Symphony in New Jersey and the Thailand Philharmonic in Bangkok, where he was also the Director of Ensembles at Mahidol University and conductor of the Southeast Asian Youth Orchestra All-Nations Ensemble. He is the director of the ConCorDance Project, which fuses classical music with improvisation and elements of jazz and world music, featured on the recording Rendez-Gnu. He taught college jazz history and instrumental music for ten years in Iowa and now lives in Orange County, with his wife and three children. “I am eager to further develop my teaching philosophy and skills through YOLA and the El Sistema method and seek ways to advocate for music education as a means to strengthen community, especially in low-income school districts in Southern California.”

Jason Tong

Jason Tong

Jason Tong graduated from Westmont College with a B. A. in Music in 2017. A chemist-turned-conductor, his deep love for both the sciences and the arts colors his understanding of music as an intellectual and social endeavor. With six years of experience as a singer with six vocal ensembles, he has co-led Westmont’s resident all-male a cappella ensemble, interned with the choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, and composed multiple choral pieces that have been performed internationally. He is passionate about the intersections of faith, sexuality, race, and mental health in social justice work, and hopes to give voice to the vulnerable — both literally and figuratively. 

Jason looks forward to learning more about the El Sistema model of education as a vehicle for social justice and hopes the MAT program will broaden his pedagogical capacity. After graduating he plans on remaining in the academic world as a choral educator and dreams of attaining a professorial position at the university level.

 

Karlie Traversa

Karlie Traversa

Karlie Traversa graduated from North Park University in Chicago in December 2016 with an honors Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. In addition, she earned a Certificate for Music for Social Change and Human Values. In her studies, she invested her efforts in vocal performance and pedagogy singing with the North Park University choir, Gospel Choir, and Chamber Singers, and being involved with many opera theater productions. She also continues her vocal study by studying with Dr. Annie Picard, singing in recitals, and singing for the North Shore Opera Hour.

Karlie is an active researcher in El Sistema and Education in Human Values. She often uses her skills to meet and learn from children and teachers all over the world, including: France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Puerto Rico, and Thailand. She is certified in Education in Human Values research and pedagogy from the Human Values school in Thailand. She uses her training to intentionally draw out love, peace, truth, non-violence, and right conduct in every lesson. Karlie has shared this work with various El Sistema nuclei in the past, such as The People’s Music School (Chicago’s only free music education establishment), where she offered her services as an administrator and a music theory teacher. She continues to serve her community as an early childhood music educator for the Chicago Center for Music Education.

Karlie seeks opportunities in the MAT program that will help her expand her application of Education in Human Values in El Sistema projects in Los Angeles. She hopes to share her experiences with faculty and fellow cohort members, to create unique learning experiences for the class of 2018. “The MAT program at Longy is special because it is one of the few master programs that allow students to use their musical skills to develop social transformation in one’s self. I look forward to opportunities where I can personally grow alongside with students and faculty, and serve the communities of Los Angeles.”