music CAN change the world

November 19, 2008


I watched a programme last night (how an orchestra saved Venezuela’s children) which really affected me. It was fascinating, informative and inspirational and I really felt it. It was about “El Sistema” – a scheme, for want of a better word, which was born in Venezuela. A scheme which was the dream of one man but which has exacebated into an initiative which is changing the lives of people on a day-to-day basis and is even changing the social fabric of an entire country. Amazing!

childrenEl sistema began with 11 children in a carpark and now over 11,000 youngsters are involved with it. It had a simple aim, that of teaching children music. But that simple aim has become so much more and it is helping to fight poverty by giving children something to believe in. By giving them a way into music that they wouldnt otherwise have, music by means of an orchestra, is becoming a unique instrument for socialising children. These children are finding passion and a belief in themselves that then can have dreams and they can accomplish them. This is even spilling over into other areas of their lives, helping them to do better in other things as well.

In the programme, Alan Yentob went to Venezuela and talked to people who have been influenced by this initiative. Their responses were inspiring and illustrated the profound impact that El Sistema is having on people there.

“music changed the social life of my country”

“when you have a musical instrument, you feel like you’ve got something.”

“if it wasnt for music they’d just be in the house all day”

“we dont play instruments by chance. God gives us all the opportunity to develop our gifts, it’s up to us to respond to the opportunity.”

“This is the future the world needs. 1000s of children playing music.”

The overwhelming belief was that using music in this way is preventing children from falling by the wayside & getting caught up in a life of drugs, theft, poverty and maybe even worse. It is helping them to grow into better people, giving them hope & dreams, and teaching them that hard work can overcome anything.

And the result?

Today music is fully integrated into the life of the country. El Sistema is doing astonishing things with music to change the lives of poor children. It isnt just producing musicians, it’s also training them as human beings.

Now I’m no expert, but I’d like to call myself a musician & I am fairly accomplished. Perhaps that’s why this has really touched home to me. Music really can change people’s lives for the better. This scheme is fantastic, very inspirational. It’s just mind blowing to see how something so simple, so fundamental as learning to play an instrument, something that I perhaps have always taken for granted, can have such a dramatic impact, not just on an individual but on whole communities and even an entire country.

Music can change lives. If you really set you heart on something you can do it. And what an amazing gift to give to a child – music.




  1. […] which re-emphasises this fact.  News that really stresses not only the effect that music can have on your life & soul, but even on your own physical […]

  2. […] I’m a strong believer in the importance of music in our lives, both spiritually & mentally.  I’ve read a number of reports in recent months which discuss the benefits music can have on our health:  helping dementia patients; giving sight back to stroke sufferers; improving the social fabric of society. […]

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