All posts by Dawn Heinen

Nano-Interview with Elissa Johnson-Green of UMass Lowell

Elissa Johnson-GreenName: Elissa Johnson-Green
Organization: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Title: Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education
Genre: General music education focused on composition
Years in the Field: 20

What do you do at University of Massachusetts Lowell?
I teach future music teachers. I also have created and run a program called the EcoSonic Playground Project, which provides open access to musical instrument play for all children. We have brought this program to diverse learning communities in the US, Canada, and Ireland.

Why do you do what you do?
My whole life has revolved around music. After being a classical performer (flute and voice) for many years, I decided to shift my focus to music education. I started out as a music teacher in K-8 education. This experience taught me that children understand music as a powerful and meaningful force in their lives – one that they rely on for so many aspects of their social interactions, emotional development, artistic development, and learning. Now, as a professor who trains music educators, I teach my adult students how to approach teaching music from the perspective that music is at the core of what makes us human. I do this work because I want to influence my students to teach music as a dynamic, living art form and as an essential form of expression.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Teaching! I am fortunate to work with amazing students who are dedicated to music education. They are talented, intelligent, and passionate about bringing music to all children.

What challenges you in this work?
All of the administrative tasks I need to do to make sure my program runs smoothly. Helping my students to navigate the scheduling system – and making sure they are on track to graduate.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
I take seriously my responsibility to provide high quality music educators to my community. Having more great music teachers available and working in the schools, means it’s more likely that the schools will value their music programs. My hope is to graduate students who will contribute to the growth and development of music education for all.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I listen to anything that I consider to be good music. Some of my favorites: Palestrina, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bartok, Kendrick Lamar, Logic, Aretha Franklin, Koko Taylor, Led Zepplin, Rush, Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Alison Krauss, and anything that Yo Yo Ma has ever played.

Seen any good movies lately?
Into the Spider-Verse. I highly recommend it.

Podcast: Opening Doors and Creating Pathways

Alexandra Oliver-Dávila On the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with  Alex Oliver-Dávila, Executive Director of Sociedad Latina, about the symbiotic relationship they have formed with numerous local colleges which allows their students to experience a pathway to higher education and bridges an institutional gap between higher education and community-based organizations.

Sociedad Latina is the oldest Latino youth organization in Boston. Its creative youth development program supports young people from middle-school into early college or career.

Listen to the episode.

Read the transcript

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.

Creative Youth Development Learning Series Announced

Join Grantmakers for Education Arts Education Impact Group. and the Creative Youth Development National Partnership for a learning series that starts July 30.

This learning series is a set of dynamic online conversations with youth, experts, funders, and practitioners based on a set of written briefs Americans for the Arts commissioned that were authored by field experts as part of AFTA’s first phase of a creative youth development toolkit.

We will explore new paths forward for supporting youth through creative youth development practice. The series will dive into what it means to support students in overcoming adversity, through approaches centered on agency, justice, and equity.

This learning series is brought to you by the Creative Youth Development National Partnership in collaboration with the Grantmakers for Education Arts Education Impact Group. It is hosted by the National Guild for Community Arts Education and made possible by generous support from the Clare Rose Foundation.

July 30, 2019, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET, Free

Working With Youth

So often we adults make decisions on programming and policy without youth voice, even though they are directly impacted by our choices. But young people are speaking up to become their own agents of change. They are concerned about their future when we are long gone and they are ready to lead today. To truly give them the space they are demanding, we must rethink what it means to co-lead with young people. Learn practices to consider when implementing youth-driven leadership models in classrooms, afterschool programs and community spaces. A rich conversation with funders, youth, practitioners and experts will provide insight from multiple perspectives.

Watch the July 30 recording

Read the “Working with Youth” landscape analysis (PDF)

August 28, 2019, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET, Free

Trends in CYD Programs

Creative youth development programs, with their grassroots and community-based origins, are a heterogeneous field of practice that has in recent years codified characteristics of high quality CYD through a series of frameworks. At the same time, CYD practitioners are committed to reflection and ongoing refinement, to programs being actively shaped by young people, and being connected to and a reflection of their communities. Therefore, CYD program practices are continuously in development.

Join us for an overview of the soon-to-be published Trends in CYD Programs landscape analysis from Americans for the Arts and the Creative Youth Development National Partnership. During the webinar, researcher Denise Montgomery of CultureThrive will discuss five current trends in CYD program development:

  1. Holistic Approaches Growing as Needs Grow
  2. Collaboration Across Sectors
  3. New Generation of Program Staff with New Approaches
  4. Scaling by Depth
  5. Establishing Creative Career Pathways

Register Now

September 2019 – Free

Working in Social Justice

Registration details to come

New Book Published on CYD and Music Learning

Cover art for the book Music Learning as Youth Development.

Music Learning as Youth Development, a new book published in June 2019, highlights the role of community based Creative Youth Development (CYD) organizations as catalysts and trailblazers for bringing youth development practices into all areas of music learning.

Utilizing case studies and stories from organizations around the world — including Massachusetts-based programs such as Zumix, Berkshire Children and Families, the Sci Tech Band, Elevated Thought, Community Art Center, The Theater Offensive, RAW Art Works, and others — the evolution and impact of CYD is traced alongside the development of the youth development field.

Looking forward, this book is an important step in moving youth development into the center of music learning in schools, community based settings, higher education, and professional performance settings.

Erik Holmgren of Mass Cultural Council authored a chapter called, “Changing the Ecology of Music Learning: Lessons from Creative Youth Development,” and the book was edited by Larry Scripp of the New England Conservatory and Brian Kaufmann from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Podcast: Sonido Musica in Harmony

Eileen McCaffery and Julie JaronOn the Mass Cultural Council’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud, we spoke with Eileen McCaffery, Executive Director of Community Music School of Springfield, and Julie Jaron, Director of Visual and Performing Arts for the Springfield Public Schools, to discuss their work over five years on the Sonido Musica program, a partnership that aims to reduce Springfield’s high school drop-out rate through student engagement, leadership, and performance opportunities. What started with three public schools and 60 students has grown to 18 schools and nearly 1,000 student musicians! Now nearby Holyoke wants to replicate this model. Their goal was not to have the Community Music School replace music education in the public schools, but rather to help principals and administrators see the power of the arts working every day in their school.

Listen to the episode.

Read the transcript.

Check out other episodes featuring Creative Youth Development leaders.