Alexandria, VA—Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) proudly announces the name of its school year-round music education program, a partnership with Alexandria City Public Schools hosted by John Adams Elementary. Dubbed ASO Sympatico, the program is inspired by the El Sistema approach to classical music education, which began in Venezuela 35 years ago. Sponsored by the ASO, the program launched in fall 2014, and student participation has exceeded expectations.
“We have a waiting list of over 50 students wanting to join our ensembles,” says Asif Majid, ASO Sympatico’s Director. “More than 100 students are currently enrolled in our five ensembles. We have lots of room to grow, and we hope to expand our current offerings and add ensembles as the program gains momentum and public funding.”
John Adams was chosen as the launch school for the program because of the strength of the existing music program—including the school’s participation in the Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts program (CETA)—its cultural diversity, and need for before- and after-school opportunities for students. Families at John Adams work multiple jobs, often second and third shifts, and ASO Sympatico provides flexibility and a reduced reliance on additional childcare with early morning and late afternoon ensembles. Further, John Adams is a Title I Targeted Assistance school, with 67% of its students receiving free and reduced lunches. With the influx of new families moving to the area, the need for ASO Sympatico is increasing every year.
In its first year, ASO Sympatico serves more than 10% of the school’s students with a strings ensemble, two keyboard percussion ensembles, a bucket band and a chorus. Besides daily instruction and in-class mini-performances, the ensembles participate in regular performances for the community and intensive composition workshops throughout the year. The program’s upcoming workshop, slated to run March 9 through March 13, partners with Creative Connections and will culminate with a 6 PM concert at the Torpedo Factory Art Center as part of the Torpedo’s Second Thursday Art Night. Free to the public, students will present pieces composed during the workshop and repeat the performance on Friday morning for the John Adams student body.
ASO Sympatico hopes to expand within John Adams and eventually to other schools in the district in response to the growing needs of the community. Building on the vision of three music teachers who were volunteering their time to provide before-school and after-school instruction (Wes McCune, Emily Smith and Lindsey Serrao), the successful program launch can be a model for growth and expansion.
“We are so fortunate to have this partnership at John Adams,” says Lindsey Serrao, director of Sympatico’s Strings at Sunrise ensemble. “Sympatico has increased my students’ ability to express themselves, be creative, and demonstrate self-confidence. Through Sympatico, we are creating a music family at John Adams.”
To become involved as a community partner or volunteer, or to learn more about the program, please visit https://asosympatico.wordpress.com. To donate to Sympatico, visit http://www.alexsym.org or call 703-548-0885. ASO Sympatico’s Torpedo Factory performance is free and open to the public and will be held March 12 at 6 PM at 105 N Union Street, Alexandria VA 22314.
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