Can El Sistema play in Sonoma?

Anne Case has a dream, and it is set to music. She would like every student in Sonoma who wants to learn an instrument to have access to unlimited group instruction and practice, especially those who would not otherwise have the opportunity.

At a time when music always seems to be the very first public school program to hit the chopping block, her goal is a lofty one. But if you have ever heard of El Sistema (elsistemausa.org), you know that the most impossible sounding programs are sometimes the most successful.

The world-renowned “El Sistema” music program of Venezuela serves hundreds of thousands of underprivileged youth each year in intense, free orchestra programs.

El Sistema was founded in 1975 by Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu and exists primarily as social development program. It is estimated that more than 2 million children have participated in El Sistema since its founding.

Case’s vision is for every child in Sonoma to have an opportunity to learn a musical instrument and play in an orchestra. “I believe that, besides providing a fun activity for these children, the program will help teach them the skills and discipline that will help them thrive in school and beyond,” she said. “Through playing frequent concerts and exercising musical leadership, these musicians will make a difference in the communities they live in.” Broader still, she hopes that Sonoma will come alive with music as the program grows and develops.

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