Posted Apr 28, 2020 | Press Releases, 

Alexandria, VA—In collaboration with the Collective Conservatory and led by Daniel Trahey, upper-level students from Alexandria Symphony’s Sympatico program are participating in a one-week pilot workshop via Zoom from April 27 through May 1. Students from the Sympatico ensembles at John Adams Elementary will hone musicianship skills including body percussion, composition and improvisation.

“Our students are processing a lot of change right now,” says Sympatico Program Director Kyle Tilman. “Besides missing school and their friends, they are missing their daily music instruction while trying to make sense of the world around them. Making music with Sympatico is a safe place for them to express themselves, take ownership and feel powerful. I am honored that we can offer this distance learning opportunity for them.”

During the pilot week, students will learn how to create music in their home environment, including involving family members. They will compose spoken word rap compositions to express their range of emotions. They will also create melodies and rhythms through improvisations and have a chance to share their creative ideas as solos with the group.

“These kids have so much to say,” comments workshop leader Daniel Trahey. “Their insights are wise and inspirational, and I am delighted to discover what creative ideas they craft through this process. Music brings us together in ways that nothing else can.”

Mr. Trahey is the Artistic Director of Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids Program and has served as consultant to Sympatico since it launched in 2013. Trahey also leads Sympatico’s January annual composition workshop week, where more than 150 students from John Adams Elementary and Patrick Henry K-8 school create original compositions and perform them for friends and family. Colleague Pete Tashjian will be joining him as a teaching artist along with Sympatico ensemble instructors for the online workshop.

In addition to music-making, the students will learn mindfulness with specialist Ari Urban and participate in exercises to promote both mental and physical wellness. “We expect this pilot week to be a great success, and we’ve already planned two more week-long sessions with a larger group of students in mid-May,” says Alexandria Symphony Board President Melynda Wilcox. “Sympatico is the shining star of our organization, and I am very proud that we can provide these workshops during these challenging times.”

Sympatico is modeled after El Sistema, a global movement of social change through music for children with the fewest resources and the greatest need, which began in Venezuela more than 30 years ago. Sympatico uses intensive music instruction and frequent performance opportunities as a vehicle for increasing academic performance, improving school attendance, and fostering important life skills. Sympatico is a member of El Sistema USA, a national alliance of El Sistema-inspired programs. Sympatico is fully underwritten by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, offered at no cost to the students or participating schools, thanks to contributions from generous individuals and multiple foundations.