El Sistema Overview


Since opening its doors in September 1999, Conservatory Lab Charter School has always believed in the power of music to transform children’s lives. From its inception, Conservatory Lab Charter School has aspired to serve as a national model of music-infused elementary education. Music at this school is like a heart that pumps and beats to infuse vitality into all the aspects of the school community.

Music is a Core Subject

At Conservatory Lab music is a core subject with rich opportunities for interdisciplinary work. Academic lessons are project based which allows teachers and resident artists to collaborate on lessons that explicitly integrate learning goals with music. For example students in grade 2 create compositions about pollinators integrating what they are learning in their classroom. Students also bring music with them across the curriculum. For example the grade 8 capstones often include student compositions, spoken word, and visual art. This is made possible because the core academic instruction at Conservatory Lab is project-based which promotes student driven inquiry. Teachers and staff are dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment where each student feels comfortable celebrating their strengths and asking for support in reaching their goals.

Everyone has a Role in an Ensemble

At Conservatory Lab, young scholars learn that everyone in an ensemble has an important role to play in creating beautiful music. The routine and practice applied throughout a student’s experience instills the value of individual and collective effort. These invaluable skills give students a lifelong learning experience that will go beyond the classroom. A critical part of a student’s music experience is their ability to work in an ensemble. Mastering this skill is critical since it directly contributes to the harmony and consistency of sounds that students produce throughout performances and learning. The most exciting aspect of being part of an ensemble is that students celebrate their ability to work as a team, while growing individually. Throughout these experiences, as students improvise rhythms and short melodies, they cultivate the ability to take risks and build courage. By giving one another feedback, students learn the value of critique that develops their musical vocabulary and awareness.

Music is Every Single Day

Every one of our students receives music instruction every single day. This instruction consists of full orchestra rehearsals, sectional rehearsals, one-on-one lessons with resident artists or peers, and small group instruction. Students are challenged with level-appropriate music that aims to build confidence in their abilities, a fond appreciation and respect for music, and a sense of pride, accomplishment, and joy with every performance. They’re also given a multitude of opportunities to perform throughout the year, from classroom concerts for their fellow schoolmates and teachers to full orchestral performances for the public from the Strand Theatre in Dorchester to Boston’s Historic DCR Hatch Memorial Shell. These opportunities teach our students how to be good performers in real performance environments, and motivate them to hone their musicianship skills.

Our students are well-known for their poise and the sense of fun with which they perform, which is why they’ve been invited to perform at the Massachusetts State House and in public gathering spaces like the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Sanders Theatre, the Longy School of Music, the Boston Public Library and the Kroc Center.

Musicians in Action

Recent News and Research

To read more comprehensive research related to El Sistema at Conservatory Lab, click below for the report published by the Center for Artistry and Scholarship.

The Journey of El Sistema at Conservatory Lab