By now, you’ve surely heard of Venezuela’s renowned music program “El Sistema,” which gives young children from poor families an opportunity to learn how to play classical music. The program is 30 years old, and currently reaches quarter of a million students. It is also having a big impact around the world.
Here is a roundup of articles you may have missed:
The Associated Press writes that Venezuela’s youth orchestra program has turned the country into “a powerhouse for producing talented musicians.” The prime example is conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who will head the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009. “‘El Sistema’ has given me everything. It gave me the possibility of having a path in life with music,” he said.
Reuters notes that rich countries like the U.S. and and UK are “lining up” to imitate the Venezuelan program. Hundreds of thousands of children in Venezuela have sidestepped a life of poverty and crime through the free education, so why not try it elsewhere? L.A. and Baltimore are developing similar youth orchestras.
Wired Magazine opines that, regardless of what people think about President Chavez, nothing can touch the shining example of his state-funded music education program. The heavy investments in poverty relief and human development indeed show that Venezuela has its priorities straight.
The New York Times reports that Venezuela is testing the peaceful techniques of “El Sistema” in prisons across the country. Here, “budding musicians include murderers, kidnappers, thieves and… dozens of “narcomulas,” or drug mules, as small-scale drug smugglers are called.” If the attempt to humanize jails works out, prison reform in Venezuela may also set the standard for other nations.