Support System for
Children and Families
Pilot Program: El Sistema
El Sistema Music Initiative
There is almost universal agreement on the value of music and the arts for the healthy social, cognitive, and physical development of children and youth.
El Sistema has emerged as a global movement that promotes children and youth engagement in community and school-based music-making experiences. El Sistema is not a replicable program or curriculum, but rather a set of inspiring ideas, and a movement to “use ensemble music to enable every child to experience being an asset within her or his community.”
(El Sistema Principles by Eric Booth)
There is a growing “extracurricular gap” between children of different socio-economic groups. Extracurricular activities, and involvement in music-making (learning to play an instrument, taking part in a choir) in particular, have lasting effects on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional skills. Engagement with these types of activities provides a sense of belonging and access to caring adults.
El Sistema Network
Elkhart County’s El Sistema network is a network of 17 community leaders, including educators, musicians, local business leaders, and administrators, who are working to expand the number of sites across the county.
These leaders share a vision for social change through access to music-making for all children.
Elkhart Community Schools and Goshen Community Schools are the first school districts to pilot El Sistema-inspired programs in their schools.
Elkhart Community Schools’ Roosevelt STEAM Academy is the first school in the county to pursue the goal of enabling every child to play an instrument.
Indicators of Success
Solution and Overarching Goal
Healthy, nurturing community spaces that provide a sense of belonging and community pride, such as those created in El Sistema-inspired programs, may have the power to prevent some of the most significant harmful effects of poverty.
El Sistema began in Venezuela in 1974, and El Sistema-inspired programs emerged in the United States in the 1990s. Although many accomplished musicians have started their journey in El Sistema-inspired programs, El Sistema is about creating citizens and building communities through music.
In El Sistema-inspired programs, music is both an individual endeavor that allows children to build on their assets and pursue musical mastery and a collective experience that unites people in striving toward excellence. Our goal is to bring El Sistema-inspired programs to all communities in Elkhart County.
El Sistema Music Initiative
John Hill, Coordinator
El Sistema Music Initiative History with HEA
In January 2015, 130 local educators, businesspeople, and citizens took part in a one-day El Sistema workshop hosted at Goshen College to learn more about this innovative model of music for social change from leaders from across the country.
Roosevelt STEAM Academy in Elkhart Community Schools was the first school in the county to launch an El Sistema-inspired program with a vision to integrate music into the daily school schedule and provide all students with the opportunity to play an instrument.
Goshen College held the first El Sistema Honors Festival in September 2017, bringing together 60 4th and 5th-grade students from RSA and Prairie View to make music together. The students performed a concert for family and community members at the end of the festival.