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Music Transforms

Music for Social Change

The Hilti Foundation focuses on achieving sustainable social impact with every cultural project it engages with. In 2006, this saw the Foundation collaborate with the “El Sistema” music program, one of the world’s best known and sought-after initiatives in the field of “Music for Social Change”. Over the years, subsequent collaborations have evolved for which the Hilti Foundation not only provides financial support, but also professional expertise and cultural networks, all of which empowers young people develop skills through music that enable them to become self-determined and responsible members of society.

Photo: Hilti: Children play violin
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Academy for Impact through Music

Owing to the nature of these close, long-term collaborations, the Hilti Foundation has learned to better identify and understand the main development needs for these social music programs. The desire to develop tailor-made training opportunities led to the foundation of the “Academy for Impact through Music” (AIM) in 2020.

Photo: Hilti: Fiona Cunningham, Director of the Academy of Impact through Music

In its first year, AIM is already making a mark as a “generous laboratory” for teaching and leadership innovation in support of a global field that is uncommonly dedicated to empowering young people in life and in music.

Fiona Cunningham,
Director of the Academy of Impact through Music

Studies have also shown that comprehensive teacher training and development programs, improved project management know-how and measurement methods are key to the sustainable success of music programs. Such learnings have also been used to validate the effectiveness of the programs without depending on costly long-term studies. AIM will focus precisely on these three topics in the coming years.

2020 was a pilot-year for these endeavors. The curriculum for the new teacher training program “Firebird Fellowship”, was developed under the leadership of AIM-director Fiona Cunningham together with the heads of ten selected international music programs and professionals whose expertise range from pedagogy to communication. In the summer of 2020, 30 young teachers completed the first course. In the meantime, they are already applying what they have learned and are accompanied and supported by AIM advisors, with whom they regularly reflect on their work and, as a result, have begun to improve and try out new ideas. This summer, the first group of teachers will pass the baton to the next group of “Firebirds”, but as graduates, they will remain committed to the program and thus contribute to AIM’s basic philosophy of constant questioning and further development. AIM hopes to have already trained a large group of dedicated teachers within just a few years. They will not only share their knowledge with young people, but also enable them to find ways towards a more self-determined future.

Quotes from our “Firebirds”:

Photo: Hilti: Francis Gagliardo, El Sistema, Greece

AIM has once again awakened my desire to change the world and to actively participate in change that happens through music education.

Francis Gagliardo,
El Sistema, Greece
Photo: Hilti: Mollie Westbrook, BSO Orchkids, Baltimore, USA

Working for AIM has revived my interest in teaching. I am very much looking forward to the new school year.

Mollie Westbrook,
BSO Orchkids, Baltimore, USA
Photo: Hilti: Pablo Parra, Acción Social por la Música, Spain

What we do is important – but if we do it together, it becomes significant. We represent the end of music as a privilege and the beginning of music as a universal right.

Pablo Parra,
Acción Social por la Música, Spain