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Associate Research Fellow

Elaine Chang Sandoval

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

Research Interests

As an ethnomusicologist, I use ethnographic methods to study the pedagogies and educational institutions of various music practices. In particular, I analyze and theorize issues of coloniality, social justice, race, nationalism, and space in relation to music teaching and learning. My current project studies Alma Llanera, a music education program based on música llanera from the Colombia-Venezuela plains region, as well as other traditional Venezuelan musics. Alma Llanera is a program within Venezuela’s famed national El Sistema music education system, and I conducted long-term fieldwork in Guárico state, Venezuela between 2016-2018. This project examines pedagogies of traditional and popular music, llanera (plains region) culture, politics of the state, current economic and social crises, and circuits of migrant and diaspora musicians. I have also worked extensively with the now global movement of El Sistema-inspired projects pursuing music education for social justice. In addition to ethnographic approaches, I work with practices of assessment and evaluation, non-profit management and network-building, scholar-activism, public humanities, and digital Open Educational Resources.


Born in 1989 in San Jose, California. Fulbright recipient (2016-2017), New York Public Humanities Fellow (2017-2018), and Sistema Fellow (2012-2013). Has taught undergraduate and graduate music courses at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and has worked for the CUNY Pipeline Program, League of American Orchestras Knowledge Center, Sistema Global, and WolfBrown. 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

2019-2020  William Randolph Hearst Dissertation Year Award, Graduate Center, CUNY.
Public Humanities Fellow, Humanities New York

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.


2019, with Natalie Oshukany, “OER Review: Musicology/Ethnomusicology,” in Building Open Infrastructure at CUNY.

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.