Monday, April 14, 2008

El Sistema - Drums, Not Guns

"A child's physical poverty is overcome by the spiritual richness that music provides." Dr. José Antonio Abreu

Did you watch 60 Minutes Sunday night? If so, you were inspired and humbled by a story about a music program call El Sistema -- the system. It's credited with saving hundreds of thousands of Venezuela's cruelly disadvantaged, impoverished children by teaching them music.

Bob Simon tells how children start in El Sistema as early as 2 years old, are eventually given instruments, willingly practice for hours every day, six days a week and learn to play in orchestras instead of on the dangerous streets.

The brutal reality of the slums in which they try to stay alive is so unfair you want to scream. Not so different in America, but what do we do about it? Cut after-school and cultural enrichment programs. Our children play with guns instead of clarinets and trumpets and drums.

The best of the El Sistema musicians travel the world as the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra. They've just played Carnegie Hall to cheering crowds. That's what happens everywhere they appear.

If this doesn't make you smile and cheer and even choke up a little with pride for the accomplishments of these amazing children, then you are made of stone. But you're not.

So crank up your speakers and get the hankie ready.

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Anonymous daniel rubin said...


11:54 AM  

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