The Results Speak For Themselves

El Sistema is a phenomenal program of music education, which targets children from disadvantaged communities – particularly those in socio-economically depressed communities – and takes them through an intensive program of learning to play a musical instrument and sing, all in the context of orchestras and choirs. The process transforms them, both intrinsically (beautiful joyous music does this), and extrinsically (cognitively, and in developing skills of concentration, teamwork, discipline, self-respect, self-esteem etc.).

These are the five “fundamentals” which define El Sistema and El Sistema-based programs:

1. Social Change – The primary objective is social transformation through the pursuit of musical excellence. One happens through the other, and neither is prioritised at the expense of the other;

2. Ensembles – the focus of El Sistema is the orchestra and/or choral experience;

3. Frequency – El Sistema ensembles meet multiple times every week over extended periods;

4. Accessibility – El Sistema programs are free, and are not selective in admission; and,

5. Connectivity – Every nucleo (Sistema music school) is linked at the urban, regional and national levels, forming a cohesive network of services and opportunities for students across the country.
(Ref.: "The Five Fundamentals of El Sistema" - by Jonathan Govias, Abreu Fellow - Canadian Music Educator Journal, September 2011)

For a child who has never, nor would have, had the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to play with others in an orchestra, but for this program, this is an extraordinary experience – and a tremendously positive one. It really does change their lives.

In Laverton, Melbourne, the Crashendo! pilot program has been running for six months; already it has made dramatic inroads both musically and socially. No one, including our own teaching artists was expecting such a rapid uptake and transformation of the children. Musically they have come from little or no experience in music, to being able to read musical notation and play simple music, in unison, in different parts, and within a full string orchestra. This sort of progress is not seen in any other children's music programs here in Australia, and is testament to the intensity and fun which is a hallmark of El Sistema-based programs. In the context of their lives and their family... it's been nothing short of extraordinary!

Recently Laverton College compiled a small survey of the children and the parent's perception of the effects of the program on the children and their families. These were the results:

1. Change in their confidence as a result of Crashendo!:

 - 90% said that they had noticed an overall increase in their children's confidence.

2. Changes in their children's general happiness resulting from Crashendo!:

- 95% reported an increase in the general happiness of their children.

3. Changes in the children's hopes for their own future:

- 95% noticed a positive change in their children's hope for the future.

4. Changes that have led to an overall change in behaviour at home:

- 80% reported improved behaviour at home.

5. Changes in respect towards family of child involved with Crashendo!:

- 75% reported a greater level of respect from their children.

6. Crashendo! program making a difference to family:

- 65% get on better as a family now, post program.
- 60% reported that they do more together as a family now.

7. Parent and children's development:

- 70% state that they are more confident as parents as a result of this program.
- 90% of the children have made more friends through the program.
- 75% of the children recognised they had learnt more skills than they originally had.
- 95% of parents report they are more positive about their child's future now.

Isn't that incredible? It's even positively affecting their family – and thus the wider community too!

Please help support this and all the other wonderful Sistema Australia programs under development by donating online at the Sistema Australia Program donation site.

Christopher A Nicholls
Director - Sistema Australia Inc.
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Please Donate to Sistema Australia's Music Programs!

You are invited to become a supporter of the Sistema Australia music programs. By making a tax deductible donation to the Australia Cultural Fund, operated by the Australia Business Arts Foundation – it will provide essential financial support for Sistema Australia's after-school music program for children during 2012.

Download a PDF of the AbaF Donation form, or donate online here.