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Associate Research Fellow

Elaine Chang Sandoval

PhD in Ethnomusicology
Former Fulbright recipient for research in Venezuela

Research Interests

As an ethnomusicologist, I use ethnographic methods to study the pedagogies and institutions of various music practices. In particular, I analyze and theorize issues of coloniality, social justice, race, nationalism, and the production of space in relation to music teaching and learning. My recent project focuses on Alma Llanera, a music education program based on música llanera from the Colombia-Venezuela plains region. Alma Llanera is a program within Venezuela’s famed national music education system, El Sistema, 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, and current economic and social crises.
In addition to ethnographic approaches, I work with practices of assessment and evaluation, data management, non-profit management and network-building, and public and digital humanities. I am committed to Open Access publishing and Open Educational Resources. I have also worked extensively with the now global movement of El Sistema-inspired projects pursuing music education for social justice.


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

PhD in Music, Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Master of Studies in Music, Oxford University.

Awards, Honors and Accomplishments

2019-2020 William Randolph Hearst Dissertation Year Award, Graduate Center, CUNY.
2019 Society for Ethnomusicology Student of the Month.
2017-2018 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.


Forthcoming, Co-Edited with Natalie Oshukany, Sounding 365: A Collaborative OER from CUNY Graduate Center’s Ethnomusicology Program (CUNY Manifold Scholarship).
2022 “Music Pedagogy in Venezuela’s Plains: Making Space in Alma Llanera.” PhD Diss., City University of New York, 2022. CUNY Academic Works (4651).
2019, Co-Authored 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 review” Journal 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

2021    Short film (recorded, written, and produced) on Venezuelan musicians’ experience
during the Covid-19 pandemic, Min-On Share Music Day series on YouTube.
2018    Co-organizer, International Harp Festival in New York, New York, with Angel and Luis Tolosa and El Taller Latinoamericano. Supported by Humanities New York and the Toulouse Foundation.
2016 and 2014 Commissioned Interview- and Survey-based Evaluation Reports of the New England Conservatory Sistema Fellows Program.
2016 “Music Lessons,” Invited article for Common Threads Blog “creative responses to a changing world”
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.