Venezuela’s Music Ed System: El Sistema

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Mark Swed wrote an intriguing article in the L.A. Times recently entitled “What the US could learn from the Venezuela’s music education system.” The state-run music ed program (called El Sistema) is known as “the most extensive, admired, and increasingly imitated in the world. … Foreign visitors who stream into Caracas to observe El Sistema in action invariably leave Venezuela amazed.”

Where many in this country see classical music as moribund, El Sistema is universally supported, admired, and enjoyed. No political party there would even think of opposing music education. For an equivalent in this country, Swed says, “Imagine President Obama demanding a $1.2 billion music education system under the rubric of social welfare, only to be challenged by Ron Paul insisting that Congress allocate an even great sum for socialized music.” (Swed visited Venezuela on the same day the the Los Angeles Board of Education met to consider a proposal that would eliminate arts from the elementary curriculum).

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