They come to experience music through a vision that is guided by a spirit of solidarity. And this same spirit, provides them with a new family within the nucleo: a safe-haven to learn, socialize, and feel valued.
-Sistema Fellow Jose Luis Estrada Hernandez
In Barquisimeto, I met Victor Santana, a 15-year old trumpet player from Barquisimeto who lives in New York and attends Juilliard Pre-College. He was visiting home on a school break.
I had been quite dazzled by the closeness of the brass players and the intensity with which they work together as groups. I wanted to know more about their experience growing up at this conservatory, and Victor very graciously allowed me to interview him.
Getting Started in El Sistema
"You Live For This"
He says it's not a music program, but more like a school. And almost in the same breath he says, "You Live for This." Imagine if that's how kids felt about going to "regular" school!
Becoming Like One Through the Orchestra
Here's what I took away from talking with Victor: It's no joke. Group learning and intensive ensemble playing really do impact community. Warming up together, hanging out together, learning from one another, feeling part of the ensemble as a whole with all of your closest friends. Knowing that you can rely on these people for support; truly believing that the orchestra (community) sound comes from your shared love for and commitment to the music.
(This got me thinking: What can this mean for education of high school and college students in the US and elsewhere? How can we offer this experience to young people, who are 12-15 years old right now? How, if they have only played once a week in orchestras their whole life? What would a youth orchestra or other ensemble that worked together everyday look like?)