Carlos Garcia Rawlins_Reuters

How can we engage children, teach them about art, music, team building and solidarity so that potentially we keep them off the streets and strengthen them while they experience poverty, inequality, violence and drug abuse?

Kids transformed by music

El Sistema was set up almost forty years ago by José Antonio Abreu as a social program to bring Venezuela’s youth off the streets and into musical ensembles to enrich their lives and promote social mobility. In 1975, the project began with 11 musicians in a garage in Caracas. Since then it has placed more than two million children into orchestras and has spawned branches in a various countries. Involvement with the orchestra and the choirs creates a sense of solidarity and as a result became promoted as a weapon against poverty and inequality, violence and drug abuse. There have been and still are many critiques on this program accusing it of, for one, corruption. However, the critiques (find the links below) do not account for the fact that an alternative option was chosen to combat a widely shared concern for children involved in dire situations. Alternative options are quickly dismissed and disregarded for their inability to provide immediate measurable results. Next to that, it is also worth considering that this program is not solely there to get children of the streets but quintessentially for music, art and play, values that are inherently immeasurable.