The international growth and positive impact of El Sistema programs

Posted on: March 17, 2011

“Where in the world do you find more kids playing in orchestras than on soccer teams? In Venezuela, where a national program called ‘El Sistema’ provides music education for hundreds of thousands of at-risk youth,” writes Lara Pellegrinelli at NPR’s website on Tuesday (3/15). “Now like-minded programs are springing up across the United States.” As evidence of U.S. programs modeled on El Sistema, Pellegrinelli visits the new Corona Youth Music Project in Queens, N.Y., founded by Alvaro Rodas; Philadelphia’s Tune Up Philly program, founded by Stanford Thompson; and the Boston Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton, Mass., co-directed by Rebecca Levi. In separate article in Wednesday’s (3/16) Guardian (U.K.), Charlotte Higgins reports on a program in the town of Raploch, described as “one of Scotland’s most deprived estates, with 33% unemployment, grave problems with drug and alcohol abuse, and poor health…. Since 2008 an audacious project to change the future for Raploch’s young people by immersing them in classical has been working with 80% of children at nursery and primary schools. And now a new report commissioned by the Scottish government has concluded that the project, Sistema Scotland … was already having an overwhelmingly positive effect on the children involved. … Sistema Scotland has 388 children involved, of whom 90 have joined the Big Noise Orchestra, playing music together for up to 20 hors a week, and receiving intensive tuition from experience musicians…. Scottish culture minister Fiona Hyslop said: ‘This evaluation shows that Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise Orchestra is a great cultural experience for the children involved, which is having a positive impact on their lives.’”

Posted March 17, 2011