El Sistema represents a unique cultural, educational and social program specifically aimed at social engagement, as well as musical, moral, personal and social development of children and young people through an innovative approach to music education. El Sistema based its methodology on the joy brought by group music, within orchestras and choirs, in order to provide that every child is understood and accepted both within and outside its community. Since 1975, when José Antonio Abreu, a visionary, musician and economist founded it in Venezuela, El Sistema grew up for decades within its “Nucleus” – educational centers, where children, raised in difficult conditions and poverty, were gathered on daily basis to socialize and enjoy joint musical activities.
Unlike any other music programs, the mission of El Sistema is primarily of a social nature, with its essence reflected in Abreu’s conviction that the experience of a serious, ambitious and joyful music making can help every child to develop not only musical skills but complete personal potential, which directly contributes to the overall improving of quality of life and functioning of both the family and the wider community. According to one of the participants of the original El Sistema program, the biggest problem for societies with high poverty rate, as this is the case in Venezuela, is not the fact that your stomach is empty or you do not have a roof over your head, but the feeling that you are nobody and worthless. That’s why El Sistema program secures the feeling of personal value, belonging, personal efficacy and hope as the most valuable gifts to the child’s soul providing space for growth and motivation moving the child forward and for better throughout the life. This noble vision has been successfully executed with the continuous support of the Government of Venezuela, enabling thousands of children and young people to overcome poor living conditions and become productive and empowered citizens. During the 1990s, the story of El Sistema and its success spread throughout South America, echoing in countries such as Colombia, Brazil and Mexico, which soon began to develop their own El Sistema programs and centers.
Over the last two decades, the incredible success story of El Sistema was recognized globally, inspiring hundreds of similar programs currently working with about 4 million children in over 60 countries around the world. The founder of El Sistema, Hose Antonio Abreu has been named a visionary of our time due to his outstanding contribution to culture and education, and has received numerous awards and recognitions from countries including Sweden, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, South Korea, Turkey, Canada and the United States.
Many eminent contemporary musicians and music pedagogues support, implement, or even come from the El Sistema program. One of the trainees of the original El Sistema from Venezuela, who claims that this program has practically “saved his life”, is none other than the maestro Gustavo Dudamel, the artistic director of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Among other imposing names supporting this program are Jo-Jo Ma, Claudio Abbado, Plácido Domingo, Francisco Pacho Flores, Gerald Virt (Artistic Director of the Vienna Boys Choir), Nemanja Radulovic and many others.
El Sistema in Serbia
In November 2014, Music Art Project and Fundación Musical Simón Bolívar from Venezuela signed the Letter of Intent. Thereby, we have formalized our position within the global El Sistema network and received support for the implementation of this globally recognized model of music education. With the support of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, the program is implemented in cooperation with primary and music schools, centers for social work, cultural centers and local self-government units. At the moment, El Sistema Serbia works with 600 children from 7 cities, together with 34 teachers.
Our work within the El Sistema program framework is focused on the following target groups:
- Children, especially from vulnerable and marginalized groups;
- Music teachers who would like to apply the El Sistema methodology in their work;
- Music and artistic circles in Serbia who want to support new educational initiatives.
Music Art Project gives special attention to the continuous professional development of personnel in Serbia, by organizing accredited professional meetings, seminars, master classes, workshops and conferences, with eminent artists and pedagogues from the country and abroad providing trainings for employees in education on regular basis.