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Associate Research Fellow

Elaine Chang Sandoval

Sandoval is on sabbatical from her MOMRI position from September 2016- June 2017. 

PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Research Interests

As an ethnomusicologist, I use ethnographic methods to study El Sistema, the now global movement of music education for social justice, as well as the relationship between music education and coloniality, social justice, race, and cosmopolitanism more generally. I believe music education may play a role in peacebuilding if careful consideration of such issues as cultural inclusion and equity is pursued. I also work on assessment and evaluation in order to better understand the outcomes of music education on social development goals. I am committed to strengthening the intersection between academia and public sector work or activism. My current research project is on education in the música llanera tradition in Guárico, Venezuela.


Born in 1989 in San Jose, California. Fulbright recipient, serves as Research Manager for Sistema Global, Research Associate for the nonprofit arts evaluation firm WolfBrown, and has been highly involved in the El Sistema movement since being a 2013 Sistema Fellow at New England Conservatory. Has lived and studied in Taiwan, China, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

Academic Degrees

Master of Studies in Ethnomusicology, Oxford University (2012).

Awards, Honors and Accomplishments

2016-2017 Fulbright IIE Student Study/Research Award for Venezuela
2014-2019 City University of New York Presidential MAGNET Fellow.
2014 International Society for Music Education Steve Dillon World Conference Award.
2012-2013 Sistema Fellow at New England Conservatory.
2011 Founder’s Award, Soka University of America.
2011 Makiguchi Memorial Education Scholarship, Soka University of America.
2010 Ikeda Scholarship, Soka University of America.


2016 “Potential contributions of music education to peacebuilding: curricular concerns” Journal of Peace Education 14(1).

2016 “Music in peacebuilding: a critical literature reviewJournal of Peace Education 14(1).

2015       (co-authored) Andrea Creech, Stephen Fairbanks, and Elaine Sandoval. 2015 Update to the “Sistema Global-Commissioned Literature Review of El Sistema and El Sistema-inspired programs.” Sistema Global.


Research-Related Outreach Projects

2016 “Music Lessons,” Invited article for Common Threads Blog “creative responses to a changing world”

2016 and 2014 Commissioned Interview- and Survey-based Evaluation Reports of the New England Conservatory Sistema Fellows Program.



2015 Contribution to “State of the Field,” Society for Ethnomusicology Student News Issue on Ethnomusicology and Music Education, Volume 11.

2015 Video Podcast and Interview Series around publication of Geoff Baker’s El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth (OUP 2014), Sistema Global Research. Sistema Global Research.

2013     (co-authored) Andrea Landin, Carlos Roldan, Elaine Sandoval and Sara Zanussi. “Say Yes to Assess: An Exploration in El Sistema-Inspired Assessment Practice.” Sistema Fellows Program. May 2013.