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On To The Next Adventure: Alaska!

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I've decided to go farther north next year. MUCH farther north. 

Where, you may ask?

ALASKA. No joke, I'm moving to Juneau, Alaska this July (just five weeks after I graduate!) to begin a year-long Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program for El Sistema​ music education at University of Alaska Southeast​. I know that you are already well informed about the El Sistema movement and what it stands for from my other blogs. You probably have already pieced together that I greatly respect it and desire to know more about how to teach music well, especially in underserved areas. 

I actually heard about this MAT program after I found out that I was accepted into another graduate program that was similar but wasn’t quite what I wanted. Upon my acceptance, I talked with colleagues in the El Sistema community who told me that they had heard of a brand new program at University of Alaska Southeast that is offering a Master's for people who want to study under nationally-renowned music pedagogue, Lorrie Heagy. Although it was originally difficult to picture myself in Alaska, I decided to look into the program and talk to Lorrie myself before making any decisions. Within hours of emailing her, Lorrie and I were skyping as she sat in a classroom of an Alaskan public school, and she told me all about her work, her vision for this program, and the details behind it. And I thought, "Why not?! I'll at least apply!" A month later, I had submitted all of my extensive application materials.

Throughout that month, I began to think deeply about what I want my first year, post-graduation to look like. I had been accepted to a job I was excited about in Chicago, I could also continue to teach with El Sistema Ravinia and privately, and accept gigs. I also wasn’t sure if I felt ready to leave this city or my friends. But there was also this feeling, this natural instinct within me, reminding me of how much I absolutely love adventure and exploring new places. I reassured
myself that this would only be a year-long commitment and started to come around to the idea of possibly moving outside the continental U.S. to participate in a program I had only just heard of a month before. I started to watch videos, read articles, and talk with others about the program and Lorrie Heagy’s work, and it became clear to me that this was where I wanted to earn my Master’s degree.


I received my official acceptance letter just last week, and I have already announced to all of my family and friends my decision. It was actually entertaining to see how everyone reacted to it; some were very excited for me and knew that this would be a great adventure. Others were puzzled as to why I would want to move there or why I was going to receive a Master’s in Teaching and not in performance. I just explained as well as I could about the transformation my career goals have gone through during my time at DePaul, and that yes, it’s crazy and scary, but that I want to pursue a career in El Sistema education. And with its bays, glaciers, and mountains, Alaska doesn’t actually sound like such a bad place to do it!

So as I mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare myself to graduate, pack up my things, and fly off to Juneau, I am trying to take time to be excited about this and also be present where I am now, soaking up my last few weeks at a fantastic school in a beautiful city. Making decisions about graduate school has shown me just how well being a music student at DePaul has prepared me for this big step, and it makes me ever prouder to be a Blue Demon.
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My new school’s mascot is “Spike”, the humpback whale, so I can officially say that I am either a Blue-Whale Demon, or a Blue Demon-Whale! I’m not sure which one I like more yet. ;) ​
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Teaching with El Sistema

It has been a great start to my final quarter of college: I had a fantastic Easter with my family in Michigan, and this past week, I started a new teaching job! While I love working in the DePaul Music Admissions office dearly, teaching cello with El Sistema​ programs is my passion in life. 

In case you are unfamiliar with the El Sistema movement and have not read some of my earlier posts, El Sistema is an educational methodology centered around social empowerment through music. The movement began in Venezuela in 1975 by a man named Jose Antonio Abreu​; he started programs around Venezuela that provided kids with free music education, five to six days a week, keeping them off the streets and in a loving community. This philosophy is centered around the belief that every child deserves an equal opportunity to grow as a person, using music to encourage that growth. 

This is actually the third program I have been honored to work with in the past three years. I began volunteering with The People’s Music School Youth Orchestra​ program my freshman year of college. How did I find out about this opportunity? I saw a poster hanging on the DePaul School of Music bulletin board! I am forever grateful for that bulletin board. I taught cello for the first time with that program, leading group and private lessons with students who ranged from ages 8 to 14.

I worked with The People’s Music School (TPMS) until the end of my Junior year and then went on my summer adventure to Trujillo, Peru where I worked with a non-profit organization called VivePeru​, teaching cello, and also taught cello with an El Sistema program there called Arpegio Peru. My experiences teaching with Vive Peru and with Arpegio Peru were both phenomenal. With Vive, I taught lessons at the Trujillo Conservatory, working with Peruvian students ranging from ages 22 to 27. It was so amazing to not only work with students who were older than I was, but I also taught my lessons completely in Spanish! Working with Arpegio gave me a glimpse into the South American El Sistema experience, one that is characterized by deep friendship, great joy, and intense love for music. It was incredible to travel to the nearby city of Chimbote each weekend to teach kids and adults.

I returned to Chicago this Fall, extremely excited to enroll in North Park University’s Certificate in Music for Social Change program, a year-long study of El Sistema history, philosophy, and principles. I am currently finishing this course and have been learning so much about El Sistema because of it! ​

As of last week, I am teaching with an El Sistema program headed by Ravinia, as part of their “Reach, Teach, Play​” program. I am teaching once a week in the Austin neighborhood, which is a very different community than Logan Square, the neighborhood where I taught with TPMS.

No matter where I have taught- from Peru to Chicago- I see energy, eagerness, and passion in each student. All of them crave to learn more and be the best they can be. Although I am teaching them musical and social skills, I know that I have so much to learn from each of my students. I love being immersed in a very different culture and learning about my students’ stories and dreams. I am excited to grow more as a teacher in the next couple of months before I graduate, and I am also looking forward to what I will learn in the years to come because of El Sistema!

Student Jobs in the School of Music

As a student worker in the School of Music Admissions office, I have been fortunate enough to see how DePaul's School of Music is run from behind the curtain. Although there is no crazy scientist who is trying to be a large, powerful wizard back there, I have discovered some pretty cool things about my school! In fact, I have realized that DePaul's music school offers a lot of great job opportunities for its students, and through that, we have all seen how efficiently our school runs.

Here are some positions around the DePaul School of Music where students work:

Front Desk Worker- The front desk worker is essentially the face of the School of Music. These workers sit behind the main desk, answering telephone calls for the school, directing people, and answering their questions. They also handle the sign-out sheets and keys for the different studio rooms and classrooms, giving out keys to students who have permission to access those rooms. Front desk workers also sort the incoming mail on a daily basis and handle the lost and found bin.

Admissions Worker- I will warn you- I am extremely biased about this position because I love my job! Admissions workers learn to do many things: we answer emails and phone calls about admission-related questions, handle admission materials- which involves scanning, uploading, and updating the documents sent to our office, give tours to prospective students and their parents, and send mail. We also work on audition days, when applicants are auditioning for the School of Music!

Set-up Crew Worker- Set-up crew is a more labor-intensive job. Workers are assigned to set up and tear down all the chairs, risers, and stands for the rehearsals and performances of different ensembles. Workers show up before and stay after the rehearsal or concert, making sure everything is in place and ready.


Stage Managing Worker- Stage managers act as both backstage managers and ushers during performances. They often work student recitals. They are in charge of controlling the lights during the performance and changing the stage setup when needed. For ensemble and other larger performances, workers can be ushers and pass out programs in the front of the hall and make sure the concert will not be disturbed. Stage managers are also in charge of locking and unlocking the two performance halls within the School of Music throughout a given day.


Students do not need to be eligible for work study in order to have these on-campus jobs; once you arrive as a student in the School of Music, you may apply for any job that has openings and decide how often you are willing to work. Student workers are paid minimum wage, gaining important work experience while making some extra money!


Studying Abroad in Llamaland

​Hi, everyone! My name is Ruth Hogle, and I am a senior cello performance major in DePaul’s School of Music. Welcome to my DeBlog page!

There are many things I am passionate about and love writing about, and one topic that I still love to talk about is my experience living and working in Peru my past two summers.

When I entered my freshman year of college, I never thought I would travel outside of the country during my four years at DePaul. As a music major, it is very difficult to find a study abroad program that allows me to earn credits at a different school during the school year. Because my major is so focused and requires a lot of specific classes in order to earn my degree, taking time away during the quarter was not an option. And I was okay with that; I accepted it.

And then sophomore year happened. All of a sudden, I craved adventure. I felt a strong desire to travel to a foreign place on my own before I became an upperclassman in college. So I began looking for missionary programs around the world, including trips to Asia, Europe, and Australia. However, around the time I was looking online at these programs, a friend from my cello studio told me about a program he had volunteered with the previous summer…in Peru. 

My first thought? “Peru?? What exactly is so cool about that place?” I had actually never heard much about South America as a whole, let alone this country on the west coast of the continent. I vaguely knew what Machu Picchu was, but that was it. However, soon after, I met with my friend and learned about the program and instantly became very interested. Hearing his experience and seeing the deep love he has for Peru really inspired me. I could hear a new word screaming at me in my head” “Aventura!!” I ended up applying the next day and was accepted as a music teacher with this nonprofit organization, Vive Perú, two days later! ​

 
So my first summer, I taught cello lessons five days a week at a local music conservatory in Trujillo, Peru and traveled on the weekends. It was incredible to learn about Peruvian culture, to travel to other places, and to make music with people from an entirely different place.

This past summer, I returned to Peru to work with Vive Perú as an in-country coordinator. My job entailed running errands, visiting other volunteers at their work sites, taking photos of the volunteers, updating our organization’s social media, and helping lead workshops and medical campaigns. This summer taught me a lot about how a non-profit organization runs (which was so fascinating…and overwhelming!!), and I learned even more about Peruvian life, as I developed strong friendships and grew close to my Peruvian host family.

Whenever I reflect on the total of four months I spent in Peru, I always smile. My time in South America did actually change me. There is something about living in a completely different and new place, away from everyone and everything you know that really pushes a person to grow exponentially. I experienced once-in-a-lifetime things and will have stories to tell for the rest of my life!

 
Some highlights of my trip: bungee jumping and repelling down a waterfall in Ecuador; practicing and speaking Spanish; petting multiple llamas, pigs, sheep, and hairless Peruvian dogs; sand boarding; performing in a fourth of July concert with the Trujillo Symphony Orchestra and being the only American on stage; forming friendships with Peruvians, with whom I still talk; and playing with children from a severely impoverished neighborhood multiple times a week and seeing them smile and laugh.
If you have an adventurous spirit and crave to see the world, consider studying abroad! If you want to learn a lot about a different place and about yourself, take the plunge (like I did when I jumped off that Ecuadorian bridge!) and climb that mountain (similar to the Andes mountains I visited multiple times the past year!). The world is literally yours to discover.