If you put an instrument in the hands of a child, he will never pick up a gun.
- Dr. José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema
SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION THROUGH THE POWER OF MUSIC
Throughout Venezuela, a quarter of a million children annually are studying classical music; a radical social project where children, living in unthinkable circumstances, are succeeding with the help of skills learned through music.
El Sistema was created over 30 years ago by Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, and 11 original participants. The program is funded by private sponsors and government and offers free music classes, including instruments at no charge, to any child regardless of their ability to pay. More than just a flagship of national achievement, El Sistema is producing transformative social change, artistic excellence, and producing and exporting musicians of extraordinary quality.
El Sistema is based on the premise that it is not just the lack of a roof, or bread, or literacy skills that holds kids back. It’s also a spiritual deficit – a loneliness, a lack of recognition, and of achievement. It is based on the belief that children are born into the world as assets – not liabilities, and that poor people deserve to see beauty.
The Venezuela project has demonstrated that children can acquire spiritual wealth through music. El Sistema has shown that art is not the property of the elite, but the heritage of the people, and is within the grasp of every citizen. This program has proven that great art is for everyone and that it has the power to improve the lives of citizens as well as transform and enhance society.
Venezuela has verified the possibility of transformative social change through music.
For poor, disadvantaged children, music is the way to a dignified social destiny. Poverty means loneliness, sadness, anonymity. An orchestra means joy, motivation, teamwork, and the aspiration to success. It starts with children, it is possible, it is deserved, it is incredibly fun – and it changes the future for children.
Whoever creates beauty by playing an instrument and generating musical
harmony begins to understand from within what essential harmony is...human harmony. - Dr. José Antonio Abreu
THE EL SISTEMA PROGRAM
are given an instrument as soon as they can hold it
outings, and music are furnished free of charge in return for the child’s
agreement to play in one of the sistema’s
playing is a part of the program from the beginning
are in groups
who have mastered a scale or two are delegated to teach younger children;
peer support is fundamental
Six days a week, four hours a day, the children play together.
THE EL SISTEMA SPIRIT
Music is taught as play rather than a chore
The objective is discipline, respect, and achievement through work
The goal is excellence: the point is not to be the best, but to be the best you can
Everything is communal, everything is about the team; the culture is one of mutual support.
THE THREE SPIRITS OF SISTEMA TORONTO
We are a team
We always do our best
We always help each other.
Designed by Neil Macdonald. Content copyright Sistema-Toronto. All rights reserved.