means "The System", and since its inception 40 years ago, it has revolutionised music education in communities of different socio-economic backgrounds internationally. This collection of essays, edited by Christine Witkowski, illustrates its mission of Music For Social Change
, offering practical information for anyone seeking knowledge, inspiration or guidance for adapting El Sistema to any community.
Founded in 1975 by Venezuelan educator, musician and activist José Antonio Abreu, El Sistema began with just eleven children in attendance at the first orchestra rehearsal, and has since grown to 500,000 children in choirs and youth orchestras around Venezuela. The power of such an inspiring community and social project as this one has been the catalyst for a global movement, its philosophies of involvement, belonging and, most of all, music, spreading to over 55 countries across multiple continents.
The essays in this book reveal the voices and experiences of teachers, leaders, parents and experts on subjects like the history of El Sistema, the different adaptations made to the system in different communities, as well as practical articles on teaching and using El Sistema in classroom situations. The fascinating essence of this 'system' is that it is a non-system, featuring flexible guidelines and malleable rules, allowing it to adapt to cultures and communities.
This book aims to make El Sistema accessible to a wide audience, prompting further social change through musical art in a way that Sir Simon Rattle has called "the most important thing happening in the world in classical music."
El Sistema is proof that music can and indeed has been a force for social change. A medium which brings people together as part of an empowered community can only be a good thing, and it's the universality of music which allows this 'system' to be a success. The essays in El Sistema: Music For Social Change are fascinating, touching, shocking and awe-inspiring, describing a project that is truly revolutionary.