The remarkable accomplishment of a great humanist, José Antonio Abreu, who dedicated his life to set up the ‘Sistema’ in 1975, an extraordinary music and social project which has been running in Venezuela in an attempt to transform the lives of the nations poorest children.
It has been using classical music to tackle the social problems of a country where 60% of the population live below the poverty line. By offering free instruments and tuition through a network of after-school centres all over the country, the Sistema has kept thousands of children away from the drugs, alcohol and gang-related violence of the streets and has led to the creation of 30 professional orchestras in a country that had only 2 before it started. Currently, 275,000 children attend the Sistemas schools and many of them play in one of the 125 youth orchestras.
At the pinnacle of the system stands the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under its music director Gustavo Dudamel who is himself a product of the Sistema and is also the musical director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
Here is a YouTube clip, entitled “How Music Saved Venezuela’s Children”
四年前、神給我一個異象、要我在鄉村開小提琴班、讓鄉村的孩童有機會學小提琴 (請閱 “Music Education in Taiwan”)。今年年初、我將這異象分享給我們的朋友、得到很多鼓勵。朋友當中有數位捐款讓我們購買小提琴、餘款幫助我們宣教的開支。今年五月、我到過溝、和同工到朴子鎮購買了六支小提琴、開始小提琴班 (請閱 “Violin Class at Guogou Church”)。我們希望過溝小提琴班的成立能感動更多的音樂同工來加入弱勢孩童的音樂教育。
Rural children are less likely to have the opportunity of receiving a good music education. However, in the past 40 years, Venezuela’s semi-official organizations ” El Sistema “ provided music education in poor rural villages, not only produced well-known musicians, such as the conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, “Gustavo Dudamel“, but also changed the culture of the society as a whole. There are 25 countries in the world that had adopted El Sistema model, but with only South Korea in Asia.
Rural families cannot afford to have a piano at home and the children don’t have much time in practicing. Violin costs much lower than piano and violin playing can be taught in group lessons. Hence, Violin class is a more effective form of music education.
Four years ago, I had this vision to have the violin classes in remote Taiwan villages (my post “Music Education in Taiwan”). Earlier this year, I have approached our friends to share my vision and received their encouragements. Some of them made donations for the purchase of violins and to supplement my missionary expenses. In May, I traveled to Guogou, purchased the violins and started the violin class (my post “Violin Class at Guogou Church”). We hope our success in opening the violin class in Guogou Church will encourage more people to join the music education of disadvantaged children.
Here is a video clip entitled “Let the Children Play”.