El Sistema is a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation's neediest kids. Among its graduates, El Sistema Venezuela has nurtured international musicians such as Edicson Ruiz and Gustavo Dudamel and the world-renowned Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra.
Many begin attending their local El Sistema center, called a "nucleo," as early as age 2 or 3, with the vast majority continuing well into their teens; attending up to six days a week, three to four hours a day, plus retreats and intensive workshops. Participation is free for all students. The country now has over 500,000 students with plans to expand it to serve 1,000,000 annually.
El Sistema's approach to music education emphasizes intensive ensemble participation from the earliest stages, group learning, peer teaching and a commitment to keeping the joy and fun of musical learning and music making ever-present. The backbone of El Sistema training is preparation for participation in orchestral ensembles, which are the soul of the nucleo community and culture. Of equal importance are choral singing, folk music, jazz, special needs programs, and various other ensembles, which adapt well to a diversity of musical genres and origins.
Location: Started in Venezuela, El Sisema is now worldwide