El Sistema was founded by José Antonio Abreu in 1975. What started with 11 children in a garage now boasts over 350,000 participants throughout Venezuela, all receiving free orchestral and choral music training, all with the mission “to help children and young people in achieving their full potential and acquiring values that favor their growth and have a positive impact on their lives in society” (http://fesnojiv.gob.ve/en/mision-y-vision.html).
The Pillars of the el Sistema Philosophy
•Social change: The primary objective is social transformation through the pursuit of musical excellence. One happens through the other and neither is prioritized at the expense of the other.
•Ensembles: the focus of el Sistema is the orchestra or choral experience.
•Frequency: el Sistema ensembles meet multiple times every week over extended periods.
•Accessibility: el Sistema programs are free and are not selective in admission.
•Connectivity: Every núcleo is linked at the urban, regional and national levels, forming a cohesive network of services and opportunities for students across the country.
(Govias, Jonathan. (2011). The five fundamentals of El Sistema. Canadian Music Educator, 53(1), 21.)