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Venezuela's Music Education System

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by studentaccount1, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. studentaccount1


    Nov 14, 2006
    From: http://www.theworld.org/?q=node/296

    "Soccer and baseball players are a source of national pride in much of Latin America. But in Venezuela, many young classically trained musicians have become their town's local heroes. The national System of Venezuelan Youth and Children's Orchestras have been training young Venezuelans for 31 years. It's made classical musicians out of half a million of them, many of them poor.

    Jens Erik Gould visited some of the program's music institutes in Caracas and sent us this report.
    Edgar Monrroy lives in a cinder-block house on a mountainside in a poor Caracas neighborhood. Mounds of trash block most of his narrow street. The neighborhood only has running water a few days a week.

    Monrroy: "In my neighborhood, lots of things can happen to you. Everyday you see crime, drugs. Music moves you away from that. The program moves you away. It changes your life, your vision of life."

    Edgar's vision of life changed when he was 15. That's when he started taking lessons with Venezuela's Youth Orchestra program. It's also known as El Sistema. The government-funded program offers free music classes to any child regardless of their ability to pay. It also provides the instruments. Edgar wanted to learn the trumpet. But the local music institute didn't have any to spare.

    So it lent him a bassoon. Soon, he and his father were playing duets, Edgar on bassoon, his father on the cuatro, a traditional stringed instrument from the Venezuelan plains. Six years later, Edgar plays bassoon in the nation's top youth orchestra, the Simon Bolivar. Edgar is one of nearly 400,000 who have gone through Venezuela's classical music program since its start in 1975. The program was founded by a musician and former government minister named Jose Antonio Abreu. Abreu says he thought of it as a social program to improve the lives of the country's underprivileged youth.

    Abreu: "As a Venezuelan musician, I proposed to make my art an instrument of authentic social development, an instrument to build citizens, a powerful vehicle to achieve an integral education for children, compensating in this way the traditional deficiencies of the continent's education system. "

    There were only two symphony orchestras in Venezuela when Abreu started El Sistema. Now there are about 200, with at least one professional orchestra in every state. Every Venezuelan government in the past 30 years has funded the program. This year its budget is 23-million dollars.

    Young violinists are rehearsing in a youth music center here in Caracas. They're members of the children's orchestra of Montalban. Antonio Mayorca directs the orchestra. He was also one of El Sistema's first students. He says classical music used to be reserved for the elite.

    Mayorca: "When I started to study classical music, when people saw me with my violin, it was like I was a strange person. 'Look Antonio with a violin? What is this?'.. Now it isn't strange to see a child here with a violin. It's something natural. I go to classes here and I see rivers of children with violins."

    In another one of El Sistema's music conservatories, 23-year-old Lennar Acosta is practicing Robert Schumann's "Pieces de Fantasie." Six years ago, Acosta was serving his ninth stint in a Caracas correctional facility. He had a history of drug offenses and armed robbery. El Sistema took Acosta on as a clarinet student, giving him lessons in the detention center. Acosta now earns a living teaching in the program.

    Acosta: "El Sistema opened the doors for me. If it weren't for that opportunity, I don't think I would be here today, enjoying this. None of my friends made it past 15 or 16, because of the type of life that we led."

    Last year, Acosta, Edgar Monrroy and hundreds of others joined the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in Caracas. They performed Gustav Mahler's epic Second Symphony. The conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, said that Venezuela's music program was doing some of the most important work anywhere "for the future of classical music." Some of that work is now going on elsewhere. Venezuela's orchestra program has inspired more than 20 other countries in Latin America to create programs of their own.

    For The World, I'm Jens Erik Gould in Caracas."

    More info:
  2. mine isn't, we have a verry nice band program from 5th grade to the end of high school
  3. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't Venezuela a "developing country?"

    That could be why they're underfunded.
  4. studentaccount1


    Nov 14, 2006
    :rollno: Did you actually go to the link?

    I didn't think so.....
  5. I did, but I didnt listen to thing thingey
  6. studentaccount1


    Nov 14, 2006
    Yeah... listen if you get the chance. :) I think it is interesting.
  7. BassManPatsFan

    BassManPatsFan Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    San Francisco
    ...maybe because most public schools are underfunded period. My high school has a great supply of instruments and such, mostly things they have acquired over the years. I would guess that we have better funding than most public high schools, but it's certainly not great.
  8. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Inactive

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Because you can't really make a lot of money in music, and the priority of school is to teach you skills that will help you make money. Sucks, but that's how it is.
  9. studentaccount1


    Nov 14, 2006
    hey Pooper - listen to the segment. It isn't too long.

    In short, the music education program in Venezuela is actually creating new industry and giving impoverished children opportunities they wouldn't have had otherwise.
  10. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Actually, I did buddy.

    Now please. I would like to know if they are a developing country.
    I can't listen to the soundclip yet, I will when I get back home.
  11. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Inactive

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I can't listen or watch streaming files. It screws up my router. It's a piece of crap. I'll have to buy a new one soon. But I can't do anything now. :(
  12. >>Why do Americans overlook the importance of music education?


    I'm not sure what to make of this, all the Americans I know sure aren't overlooking the importance of music education...
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Because we're Americans, and we can overlook anything we want.
  14. arbitrary

    arbitrary Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Boston, MA
    When is it my turn to make ignorant blanket statements?
  15. It's not just Americans. I think musical education is overlooked in Britain too. It's seen as very much secondary to academic subjects, and as a primary school teacher (not practising :)) I can say that music is usually planned as an after thought and badly implemented, just to satisfy the curriculum. It's a shame, but I know I've been guilty of it in the past - the music curriculum just seems uninspiring.
  16. Maybe its all because music education isnt that important in relation to the majority of other subjects?

    Dont get me wrong, i played alot of music through high school. but it definatly wasnt anywhere near important to me, let alone the majority of students.
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    When I was in elementary school back in the early 1960s we had a music teacher who came into our 1st to 3rd grade classrooms a couple of days a week and we all learned to read music and sing. Instrumental instruction (free, but you had to rent or buy an instrument) was started in 4th grade and band/chorus in 5th grade. Music appreciation was a required course in 7th grade.

    My own children had much less than this...no music at all until 4th or 5th grade. In our town, the middle and high school band programs were quite strong (esp. the high school choral groups) because of a very stong parents' booster group which raised a lot of money to help fund the programs outside of the actual school budget. In other words, the parents who wanted music for their kids paid for it out of their own pockets.

    Nowadays I have people coming up to me at gigs and asking me what my DB is...they really have no clue. Some people think it's a cello, one person asked if it was an oboe :help:
  18. jomahu


    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    depends on what you mean by "developing." in any context, any nation could be "developing," yes, even the big ol' USA.
    but in the imperialist sense - yes, they are a "developing" country.
  19. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    There's nothing like replying to a generalization with another one, is there? Turnaround is fair play, maybe?

    Studentaccount, please fill your profile.
  20. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    And there it is.

    A person can fill a very fulfilling and rewarding life without ever knowing what a treble clef or sixteenth note is. My son is learning drums because he wants to, and is starting on guitar. He plays around with my basses every once in a while. Music is all around us, turn on the radio and find your favorite station and enjoy. You don't need a class to appreciate music.

    A couple computer or business classes in place of music classes will be far more likely to have a positive impact on someone's future than learning what notes are in some strange scale progression.

    And, as always, the person who makes their living as a professional musician is the exception to the rule and can seek out the appropriate training they need.

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