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Israeli music director visits New Brunswick to study Sistema: ‘I was so impressed’
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Israeli music director visits New Brunswick to study Sistema: ‘I was so impressed’
Michael Krasner, a music director from Israel, left, chats with Ken MacLeod, the CEO of Sistema New Brunswick. PHOTO: SARAH SEELEY/ TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

SARAH SEELEY TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

When Michael Krasner met Moncton’s Ken MacLeod in Israel in May, little did he know that he would be on a plane to New Brunswick three weeks later.

Krasner, who is a music director studying at the Mandel School of Educational Leadership in Jerusalem, attended the First International Music Education Conference, an event organized by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv.

During the conference, he saw Mac-Leod, the CEO of Sistema New Brunswick, speak about his music program, which teaches children with limited opportunities to play instruments in an orchestral setting.

“I was so impressed by the model and him as a person,”Krasner said.

Krasner is enrolled in two-year program at the Mandel School where educators spend the duration of the program learning how to develop leadership in their respective fields.

He has a masters of music education and is the director of a music program that encompasses 12 Israeli schools. The hour-long lessons are held once a week.

As part of his Mandel schooling, he is on a quest to research similar music program models in other countries, so he can tweak the one he is working with.He has already seen programs in Ireland and England.

Once Krasner met MacLeod, he knew he had to visit New Brunswick to check out Sistema.

“In a short time we organized this trip.”

Krasner landed in New Brunswick last Thursday and for the past week, he has been touring the different Sistema centres around the province. On Thursday, he was in Moncton to get a tour of the facility.

As part of his research, he has been sitting in on rehearsals and interviewing Sistema teachers and students to find out how the program worked and its key values. Every day, he was writing his experiences on his blog for his subscribers back in Israel.

Children participating in Sistema work with the instructors for thr ee hours a day, five days a week. Krasner saw how Sistema teaches respect and discipline to the students and inspires them to be “champions,”he said.

“You talk about music, but it’s also social change. You are creating a new reality [for participants].”

During his stay, Krasner had the opportunity to play clarinet and trumpet with the children to see the lessons through their eyes.

“I wanted to play, but I also wanted to see what it looked like from the inside.”

MacLeod said it was an enlightening experience to have Krasner visit New Brunswick.

“It’s always helpful to see what you’re doing through objective eyes, especially from someone who is knowledgeable and experienced,”he said.

“To see Michael’s respect and enthusiasm for what we’re doing has been really encouraging to all of us.”

Krasner was blown away with the skill of the instructors both as teachers and musicians.MacLeod told him Sistema allows the instructors to develop both sets of abilities.

“We’ve always had a sense that our professional staff are quite extraordinary people. They have to be really good artists and they have to be really good teachers and they also have to be socially minded. That is a really difficult combination.”

Krasner hopes to adopt some of Sistema’s principles in his own program for the next school year. He also wants to increase the number of times the students meet with the instructors throughout the week. His goal is for the youngsters to have lessons three times each week rather than one. He also wants to add an extracurricular component where the students meet outside of school hours.

“I will try to run this model as close as possible to a Sistema model,” he said.“I don’t know if it’s possible at this moment.”

Unlike Sistema, the Israeli program is open to all students, regardless of financial situation.

Krasner will return to Israel on Saturday and he said he has a busy schedule awaiting him when he gets back.In order for him to make the changes, he has to communicate with government officials who are funding his music program.

“I have several appointments. People want to know what is going on here [in New Brunswick].”

If he is able to revamp the program, he wants to invite MacLeod and Tony Delgado, Sistema’s music director, to Israel to start the process.