Venezuela prison orchestra generates “huge improvement” in inmates

Posted on: August 9, 2011

On Sunday (8/7) at the BBC News website, Sarah Grainger writes about Venezuela’s Coro prison, where more than half of the inmates are “learning to play an instrument—violin, tuba, double bass or saxophone—while the others have been training their voices during choir practice. The orchestra and choir are by far the most popular daily activities on offer. … The prison orchestra is a project of Venezuela’s much-admired music system. Created 36 years ago, the programme, known as El Sistema, is famous for its pioneering work teaching children from poorer backgrounds how to play classical music and has produced the world-famous Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. … ‘We’ve seen a huge improvement in the inmates,’ says prison governor Abel Jimenez. ‘From being some of the worst behaved inmates, we now have people who are among the best in this community with a clean record of conduct for more than two years.’ … In Caracas, I meet 28-year-old Ramiro Rondon. A former gang member, he served more than three years in prison in Merida, where he learnt to play the clarinet. Released a year ago, he is now training to work in repair and restoration of instruments and is still taking clarinet lessons once a week.”

Posted August 9, 2011