Foundation Scholar Hannah Whitehouse

The Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club and Northwestern University have sponsored Hannah Whitehouse to make a circumnavigation in 2018 while conducting research on her topic entitled: "The El Sistema Movement: Social Change through Music Education".

The student newspaper Northerwestern Now had this lead article about Hanhah's selection as a Foundation Scholar as did the schools of education and music.

There were two stories on Hannah published on June 27, 2018. Hannah wrote an article about her circumnavigation in English and Spanish for music lovers. And her home town newspaper wrote a story on her trip around the world in 80 days.

Hannah's dispatches and photos from her circumnavigation are on her Blog.

Background on Hannah Whitehouse

Hannah Whitehouse grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. At age twelve, she was encouraged by her fifth grade teacher to begin playing violin in the strings class offered by her school. Throughout her middle school years, Hannah played violin in her school’s orchestra program. As she began her freshman year at White Station High School, Hannah switched to the viola and began taking private lessons. Hannah spent a great portion of her time in high school practicing, playing in the Memphis Youth Symphony, participating All-State and All-National orchestra conferences, and attending festivals like Interlochen Arts Camp and Eastern Music Festival.

Towards the end of her sophomore year of high school, Hannah watched a TED talk given by Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema--a music education program that originated in Venezuela. She began to read about the program, fascinated at the ways in which El Sistema and El Sistema-inspired music education programs were taking the world by storm and changing the life trajectories of thousands of low-income children. While Hannah had known since early middle school that she was passion about music education and advocacy for music education access, her excitement only grew when she began to learn more about these programs.

Hannah is currently a junior at Northwestern University. She is majoring in music education and social policy as a student in both Bienen School of Music and School of Education and Social Policy. Through Northwestern’s dual-degree program, Hannah is able to combine her interests in both music education and the impact that it has on the lives of marginalized communities around the globe. Throughout her time t hus far at Northwestern, Hannah has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to pursue her passions of music education and helping others. In 2016, Hannah travelled to Kenya for two months with the Global Engagement Studies Institute where she interned and completed a project with a non-profit. Additionally, this past summer she was awarded an Undergraduate Research Grant with which she completed a case study at The People’s Music School-- an El Sistema-inspired program in Chicago. Hannah is currently an administrative intern at this organization.

On top of her academics and research, Hannah enjoys playing viola in chamber groups, orchestra, and musicals. She is also a member of Delta Zeta sorority, Reformed University Fellowship, and an executive board member on Northwestern’s chapter of the National Association for Music Education.

Hannah Whitehouse's Research Topic

The El Sistema model of music education was founded in Venezuela by Jose Antonio Abreu in 1975. The aim of the model is to provide social change through the medium of music education. Advocates of this model have developed hundreds of free music programs that impact the lives of vulnerable children all across the globe. While the goal of El Sistema is to provide change in underserved populations, there is still a great deal of dispute regarding it efficacy and the way the programs affect targeted communities.

Hannah plans to examine a model that she has been engaged with through research and practice here in Chicago to see how it is being implemented across the globe. She will study programs in five countries by taking an in-depth look into the creation of the programs, how each functions today, and the impact that each program has on the communities it serves. She will examine the multiple approaches to the El Sistema model with the hope of learning more about the best practices in order to advocate for more culturally understanding pedagogy and untimately promote global social change through music.

Itinerary of Circumnavigation (draft)

Hannah will be visiting these countries during her circumnavigation in the summer of 2018.

  • England
  • India
  • Kenya
  • Philippines
  • New Zealand