YSM’s online course “Music and Social Action” begins Jan. 9

Sebastian Ruth

The third iteration of the Yale School of Music’s popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), “Music and Social Action,” begins on Monday, Jan. 9. Taught by Sebastian Ruth, YSM’s visiting lecturer in community engagement, the course, which is offered on the Coursera platform, is designed to “explore the notion that the classical musician, the artist, is an important public figure with a critical role to play in society,” according to the course description.

Melissa Thomas, an online course associate at Yale University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, said, “Version three offers a more user-friendly and interactive experience.”

Among other changes that have been made to the course based on learner feedback, Thomas explained, “readings have been reorganized within the course so that they are interspersed within modules to create a more engaging experience.”  MORE

Published January 6, 2017
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Music’s Newest Career Track has a Social Conscience

21CM | By Diane Haithman

Sebastian Ruth

Sebastian Ruth

The word “outreach” in the performing arts conjures up visions of the local orchestra performing for underserved communities – then rushing back to the concert hall in time for the 8 p.m. curtain.

But a new crop of classical music entrepreneurs wants to make social activism the main event. Musicians are forming more ensembles outside the orchestra in pursuit of new models of giving back. They are devoting their careers to music as social entrepreneurship.

Sebastian Ruth is a violinist, violist and the founder of Providence, R.I.’s Community MusicWorks, which provides music education for at-risk kids. The landscape was different 19 years ago when he founded MusicWorks. “When we started in the late ’90s, our work was much more of a marginal activity,” Ruth says. “I would say people were not flocking to do this kind of work. That seems to have shifted pretty dramatically.”


Published June 7, 2016
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[ in the press ]

YaleNews: School of Music launches ‘Music and Social Action’ Coursera course

ruth_sebastian-h-webYaleNews | By Bess Connolly Martell

The Yale School of Music launched its first massive open online course (MOOC), titled “Music and Social Action,” on Yale’s Coursera platform Feb. 22. Taught by Sebastian Ruth, the Yale College Class of 1957 Visiting Professor of Community Engagement, the course explores questions about musicians’ responses to the condition of the world.

The course, which took 13 months to develop, is being offered in an “on demand” format, and as such does not have to be viewed sequentially. “This process has deepened my own understanding of this material and has presented an interesting challenge to think through what makes compelling learning online,” says Ruth. “We hope we have crafted a learning experience that is rich and three dimensional.”


Published February 24, 2016
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[ in the press ]

Yale Symposium 2015: Music in the Schools

Polyphonic.org | By Ann Drinan

The Yale School of Music held its fifth Symposium on Music in the Schools on June 5 & 6, 2015 in New Haven to explore the role of music partnerships. A gift from the Yale College class of 1957, the Music in the Schools symposium, held every other year, honors public school music teachers from around the country. Previous symposiums explored music as a child’s birthright; El Sistema programs in America; integrating music in the classroom and the relationship between teaching artists and public school music teachers; and the role of music in school reform.


Associate Dean Michael Yaffe

Associate Dean Michael Yaffe invited Polyphonic to attend the opening day session on June 6th, to which New Haven public music school teachers were also invited.

The Symposium also welcomed representatives from “Distinguished Music Education Partnerships” from across the country[…]. 39 partnership programs participated, 25 (64%) of which involved a partnership with a symphony orchestra or opera company. MORE

Published June 30, 2015
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[ music in schools ]

Winning participants announced for fifth Yale Symposium on Music in Schools

David Lang

David Lang

The Yale School of Music is pleased to announce the participants selected for the fifth Symposium on Music in Schools, which will take place June 4–7, 2015 on the Yale campus. This year’s Symposium will focus on partnerships between professional music organizations and public school music programs.

All participants will receive the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award and will send representatives to the Symposium to participate in three days of strategic sessions. Featured speakers include MacArthur Fellow Sebastian Ruth, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, and author/journalist Joanne Lipman.

The 2015 winners comprise 38 partnerships hailing from 19 states and the District of Columbia. The majority represent urban school districts, but many are from suburban and rural districts. The music organizations include orchestras, jazz, opera, community music schools, and concert presenters. Among the participants are such major organizations as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cliburn Competition, Astral Artists, and the National Symphony Orchestra. MORE

Published March 23, 2015
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[ events ]

Symposium on Music in Schools to reward partnerships June 2015

The Music in Schools Initiative is proud to announce the 2015 Yale Symposium on Music in Schools and Yale Distinguished Music Educators Awards. This year’s Symposium will be held June 4–7, 2015 at Yale University.

This year, the focus of these two activities is on partnership programs between public school music programs and professional music organizations. With support from an endowment established by the Yale College Class of 1957, the 2015 Symposium will honor thirty-five music education partnership programs from throughout the United States for their outstanding accomplishments teaching music in public schools.

Over the course of four days, two representatives from each partnership will participate in a variety of discussions and workshops, culminating with the presentation of the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Awards at the closing banquet.  MORE

Published November 25, 2014
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[ student announcements ]

New course added for spring semester

A new course for the spring term has just been added to the schedule. It is:

MUS 578 1 (24670)
Music and Civil Society: Exploring Possibilities
Sebastian Ruth
M 7.00-8.50p
Spring 2014

The question of relevance plagues arts organizations in the beginning of the 21st century. With changing expectations about how and where the public accesses the arts, arts organizations are reassessing how they do business, and for whom. Meanwhile, artists have long been credited for having meaningful impacts on society. In this class, we will explore three lines of inquiry to understand the potential role the arts can play in building civil society: philosophy of aesthetics, history of social / political arts movements, and education as a strategy for positive change. We will also study examples of musical institutions whose missions are directly related to building civil society.

Students: If you have already handed in your registration form, you will need to fill out an add/drop form and bring it to the Registrar’s Office. Be sure to have it signed by your advisor.


Published January 6, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Yale Daily News: Music lecturer promotes community outreach


Ever since musician Sebastian Ruth joined the School of Music as a visiting lecturer this fall, his broad portfolio of work in community outreach through music has proven a strong asset to the Music School’s community.

Ruth has been nationally recognized for his work as founder and director of Community MusicWorks — ­­a public service group that allows musicians to help urban communities in Providence, R.I. through outreach to the city’s children and their families. In 2010, Ruth and Community MusicWorks were awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by first lady Michelle Obama and Ruth received the esteemed MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

“What impresses me so much about [Ruth] is he asks why we should do this… That, to me, is a really important question,” Yale School of Music Dean Michael Yaffe said.

He added that Ruth requires his students to consider how their music can impact communities beyond the concert hall. As visiting lecturer, Ruth currently teaches a course titled “Music and Service” and works with students participating in the Music in Schools Initiative, which supports music education in New Haven public schools. Ruth’s extensive experience in using music as a mechanism for social change provides a new perspective to the community at the School of Music trying to effect such change in New Haven, according to School of Music administrators interviewed.


Published November 6, 2013
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Sebastian Ruth appointed Visiting Lecturer for 2013–14 academic year


Music educator Sebastian Ruth will join the Yale School of Music faculty as Visiting Lecturer for the 2013–14 academic year. He will teach a course called Music and Service and will work with teaching artists in YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative.

Ruth is the founder and artistic director of Community MusicWorks, a nationally-recognized organization that connects professional musicians with urban youth and families in Providence, Rhode Island. A violinist, he is also a member of the Providence String Quartet, the organization’s resident ensemble. MORE

Published August 7, 2013
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