El Sistema Programs to Commence in Australia

Sistema Australia is working with Laverton P-12 College in the Hobsons Bay district of Melbourne, in partnership with the Victoria Police Community Liaison, Hobsons Bay Council, and the Hobsons Bay Cultural Development Program to deliver a three-day a week, 2-hour per day, after-school pilot music program to 50-100 lower primary school children, which will be integrated over time into the entire school, once the pilot demonstrates its success. Funding is confirmed for the first year of operation (2011).

Whilst not entirely equivalent to the Venezuelan Barros, Laverton is a low socio-economic area with many of the Laverton students at risk of not achieving success at school due to poor literacy skills . Music is seen as an important introduction as it has had influences in transforming children in the areas of literacy, numeracy and in cognitive development. The Laverton Community is one of three Regeneration Projects across the state – Laverton P-12 College will be the hub of the community.

The Laverton program will be entirely free for the children enrolled, and the community as a whole will be integrated with the program – including the parents and other wider community membership. The school itself is tremendously enthusiastic about the project and is well supported within its community. It includes a succession of instruments, leading to the development of a children’s symphony orchestra and choir.

Sistema Australia is in the process of securing tutors and teachers to support the program – these are paid positions, although we also keen to develop a volunteer program, for professional musicians to visit the school and program. We are very keen to enlist the wider support of Australia’s premier artists, ensembles and music organisations in working with the Laverton children and program. Several have already expressed a commitment to working with the project.

Integrated with this program will be a visit program to Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concerts for 100 children, very generously provided by the MSO’s Education program.

We are also looking to engage the services of an Australian university to monitor and record the progress of the pilot and program, so that we can establish the true empirical, intrinsic and extrinsic value of what we will be doing. This will hopefully provide real data and supporting evidence for the value of such a program.

Based on the process and structure of El Sistema in Venezuela, the Laverton program will also be given input from the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela – FESNOJIV – to assist with its development. As a part of that Sistema representatives, have been invited by FESNOJIV to visit Venezuela to experience El Sistema first-hand, touring their ‘Nucleos’ (music schools), and to meet with them about the development of the Sistema-based programs in Australia. This is set to take place in November 2010, as a part of their International Visit Program.

Our next project will be to find a similar school in NSW to establish another pilot there – and then to other states as we can. With at least 500,000 children, or 11.6 per cent of Australians under the age of 18, estimated to be living in disadvantage and poverty, there is much musical work to be done!
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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.