FIVE ENCOUNTERS WITH EL SISTEMA INTERNATIONAL:
AN INFORMAL ESSAY
Humans find other humans endlessly fascinating – probably because of the balance of sameness and difference we share. The worldwide growth of El Sistema fascinates us for the same reason, as we witness the consistent DNA of values and goals manifest in different ways among different cultures. This essay shares some discoveries we’ve made from recent encounters with five different national Sistemas. Each example sheds a different light on the nature and possibilities of El Sistema.
To keep these five stories in context, let’s remember that some 55 or more countries now have El Sistema programs. Each country has distinctive ways of fulfilling the shared principles of El Sistema-inspired work; one could argue that each program site (of which there are more than a thousand around the world) develops distinctive ways of following the Venezuelan beacon. This is as it should be since El Sistema is not a replicable program or pedagogy but an inquiry into the most effective ways to achieve youth development goals we all share through intensive investment in ensemble music. We report what we discover because we have much to learn from one another in this global inquiry; we are smarter together than we are alone. We urge readers of this essay to pass it along to colleagues. We hope that some colleagues will translate this essay to build a bridge that alleviates spoken language isolation, connecting us, the way our shared music does so well.
Continue reading Eric Booth and Tricia Tunstall's essay here.