TED, the international showcase of innovative ideas famous for its TED Talks, has announced its 2017 class of fellows. Among the 15 selected from around the world is Stanford Thompson, the founder of a music education program called Play On, Philly!
When Thompson, a trumpet player, was about to graduate from Philadelphia's Curtis Institute in 2009, he discovered an online TED Talk by Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of the El Sistema music education philosophy in Venezuela.
It inspired him to create an El Sistema-based education program in Philadelphia. Play On, Philly! now has 250 students, each of whom receives 600 hours of music training and performs 30 concerts a year.
Thompson is now bringing it full circle with his acceptance as a TED fellow. The fellowship offers no financial support, but TED, a nonprofit organization, gives its members complete access to a network of innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs — and a huge international audience.
"It's so easy to be trapped in what I call an echo chamber," said Thompson, who called the fellowship "transformational."
"By spreading our message on the TED platform, we can reach tens of millions of people instantly," he said. "I mean, we have a couple thousand people on our mailing list. It's really a big difference."