[Excerpted and translated by Google from Tatjana's native German; please excuse incorrect grammar.]
How many of us have in our daily life contact with people with disabilities? Whow among us have played music together? How often do we only feel pity, and how often respect and recognition?
In addition, does anyone ever have the idea that people with disabilities do not have to be in musical "therapy," but, just like everyone else, they can learn together and make music? I have not encountered anyone in Germany with disability who played with so much earnestness and at such a high level as the students in the program for "eduacion especial" in Venezuela. It is symbolic of the philosophy of El Sistema: trust in the child's abilities, work every day on a high artistic level with him, and depend on the strong group dynamic of the ensemble!
After the special needs project created in Barquisimeto received such a great response, they have begun in many other parts of the country to build "educacion especial" programs. During our time in Merida, a town in the Venezuelan Andes, we heard a Coro de Manos Blancas and numerous percussion ensembles and a violin group.
The director of the Merida program spoke with so much admiration of her students, and the artistic results were so impressive, that I feel that I would like to start a similar initiative in Peru. She has trained two of her pupils, one with Down's syndrome and the other who is both deaf and mute, to be ensemble leaders, so that she can work in the future with even more children. One of the highlights was the advanced percussion ensemble performing Oye como va!
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Sistema Fellow '14