I was fortunate to learn violin playing in private lessons 50 years ago when this considered being the privilege of the elites and the rich class. Today, I am asking the same question “Is playing violin only the rights of the elite and the rich?”
I found my answer in a post of the Web site “The Evangelical Outpost” — “Kids Transformed By music – Lunch w/ TED” by Dustin R. Steeve. Here, the founder of El Sistema, Jose Antonio Abreu said “Today, we can say that art in Latin American is no longer a monopoly of the elites and it becomes a social right, a right for all the people.”
Bob Simon reported in 60 minutes on Venezuela’s groundbreaking musical education program
Abreu, a 69-year-old retired economist, trained musician, and social reformer founded “the system” in 1975 and has built it with religious zeal, based on his unorthodox belief that what poor Venezuelan kids needed was classical music.”Essentially this is a social system that fights poverty,” Abreu explained. “A child’s physical poverty is overcome by the spiritual richness that music provides.” “So, music actually becomes the vehicle for social change?” Simon sked.”Without a doubt,” Abreu replied. “And that is what’s happening in Venezuela.”
“The children in the orchestra and choirs develop their intellectual and emotional side ……” said Abreu “All this leads to development of self esteem and confidence”. He further quotes Mother Teresa “… the most miserable and tragic thing about poverty is not the lack of bread or roof, but the feeling of being no-one, the feeling of not being anyone, the lack of identification, the lack of public esteem”
Abreu continued “ …that why the child development in the orchestra and choir provide him with a noble identity and make him the role model of his family and community. It makes him a better student at school, because it inspired him a sense of responsibility, perseverance and punctuality that will greatly help him at school. ……The idea that the families join with pride and joy in the activities of the orchestra and choir their children belong to, the huge spiritual world the music produces in itself, which also lie within itself, ends of overcome the material poverty….Needless to say that music is the number one prevention against prostitution, violence and bad habits and everything degrading the life of a child.”
The success of El Sistema after 40 years of cultivation leads other nations to plan the implementation of similar systems. In the large cities of Taiwan, music education is in-par with the advanced nations. However, in the countryside there are no resources/facilities for the children from poor families to learn music instruments (private dialogue with local educators).
Children in poor countrysides have the same dreams as those in the cities. They were elevated spiritually in choir singing. And they were proud when received recognition (award) as this happened in Guogou middle school choir trained by pastor Shulin. If they were given the same opportunities as those in the cities, I believe that they will achieve the same excellence. Also, their participation in music program will affect their parents and communities culturally and emotionally.
Last December, I discussed the possibilities of music education for the children in Taiwan’s countriesides with our Saddleback small groups and our NTU Chamber members. Though we don’t have a concrete plan, we have this idea in mind. When time is mature, we may have the resources and commitment to fulfill this dream. We are constantly praying for this mission and hope one day our Lord will answer our prayers.