Smart Living Awards Flashback 2013: Isabel Trautwein

The Judson Smart Living Awards honor individuals of all ages dedicated to the dynamic atmosphere of University Circle. Nominations are now open for the class of 2014 in the categories of arts, education, volunteerism, philanthropy and healthcare. Deadline is March 24, 2014.

Over the next month we’ll highlight winners from the past nine years. Do you know someone who qualifies to be a 2014 Judson Smart Living Award winner? Submit your nomination today!

University Circle is a treasure trove of cultural resources, but many of the young people who live within walking distance of these arts institutions are not exposed to the riches they offer.

Music is a true gift, and it’s one that Isabel Trautwein gives to inner-city youth in Cleveland who participate in El Sistema @ Rainey, a model of how a music program can create great musicians and change the lives of underprivileged young people.

“Our inner-city youth often aren’t exposed to the riches of their own cities,” says Trautwein, a violinist in the Cleveland Orchestra who took a year sabbatical from her career to receive training in the El Sistema music education way. She initiated the intensive orchestral after-school program at Rainey Institute in 2011. “None of the children had a musical background,” Trautwein says of the first through fifth graders who participate. “They are becoming proud to be part of a team that they know is exceptional.”What makes El Sistema special is its culmination of music education and youth outreach. The benefits of participating in an after-school program like this that requires commitment from students are many. For one, music becomes a stabilizing factor in what could be a challenging and unpredictable life.

The program encourages students to think seriously about the future and what it holds for them. “We see children are really feeling great about themselves and making choices that lead to good futures,” Trautwein says.

Trautwein ran daily operations of El Sistema @ Rainey its first year. Today, she is on site twice weekly and teaches private violin lessons to eight of the students there.

Her vision is to make University Circle the headquarters of El Sistema Cleveland, and to create more programs in northeast Ohio. “I’m hoping 20 years from now, we can have a youth orchestra of 300 kids who would not have played instruments otherwise,” she says.

Do you know someone who qualifies to be a 2014 Judson Smart Living Award winner? Submit your nomination today!

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