“Music has to be recognized as an agent of social development, in the highest sense because it transmits the highest values - solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community, and to express sublime feelings.”
As an avid musician, I’d love to be involved in something like this, but the closest El Sistema-supported program is in LA, called YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles). However, there other programs here in the San Francisco Bay Area that work for a similar purpose. One that immediately comes to mind is the Music In The Schools Foundation, which provides music education to underprivileged East Palo Alto schools here. I remembering volunteering for one of the MiS programs a few years back at Willow Oaks Elementary School. Through this program, I was able to help 4th and 5th grade students learn how to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on their violins. Watching their happy smiles as they successfully squeaked through the first few notes made me smile too because I was not only doing what I loved (violin), but also, I could share violin knowledge with someone else. Unfortunately, the school was a bit far from my house so I stopped going after a few months.
Since then, I’ve gone on to teach other violin students at my private music studio at home, coach elementary school quartets, and even run my own music camp. Although I can’t return to Willow Oaks due to the distance, and I probably will never be able to get directly involved with El Sistema, I can still create my own musical opportunities with a similar hope to Abeu’s. Hopefully, I’ll be running another music camp next summer, which will not only benefit the students who attend, but the organization that will receive the money raised from the camp.
Article by Lauren Kam