Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Motorvationally Speaking" - Musical Education

“Music is the universal language of mankind"

What could a small Canadian province learn from the barrios of poverty-stricken Venezuela about social change?

You are about to find out.

Venzuela is home to a music program so extraordinary it has being touted as the future of classical music itself.

And, New Brunswick is eager to learn how they do it.

Over 250,000 underprivileged kids are now part of El Sistema (the System) and the deal is simple. Any child who comes through the door showing enough enthusiasm and commitment to learn gets the instrument of their choice and free instruction every weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings.

The kids wind up working hard at their craft.

And their hard work is being noticed.

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (NBYO) is now in the process of aligning itself with “El Sistema”. NBYO officials have just completed a fact-finding tour of the South American country, with the intention of bringing the concept back to Canada.

Today on TSB, we focus on the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and its visionary president Ken MacLeod who has made a habit out of dreaming big - and seeing those dreams come true.

El Sistema is funded by private sponsors and government and has become a flagship of national achievement. It is based on the premise that it is not just the lack of a roof, bread or literacy skills that hold children back, it is also a spiritual lack – a loneliness, a lack of recognition and achievement. It is also based on the belief that children are born into the world as assets – not liabilities, and that poor people deserve to see beauty.

The El Sistema spirit:

• Music is taught as play rather than a chore;
• The objective is discipline, respect and achievement through work;
• The goal is excellence: not to be the best, but the best you can be;
• Everything is communal. Everything is about the team. The culture is one of mutual support.

Ken MacLeod dreams of an “El Sistema New Brunswick" as a way to tackle illiteracy and social alienation for at-risk kids. He is now compiling his findings from his tour of Venezueala and hopes to have a final report and recommendations delivered to the NBYO’s board of directors by September.

You can learn more about the NBYO learning tour in Venezuela at Click on the Facebook group page amd discover YouTube footage of the team engaging with members of El Sistema.

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we do what we can to inspire, educate and motivate.

"I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality"

1 comment:

Ian Varty said...


Do you remember when Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's President, stood up in the United Nations in 2006 and made the following comment...

"The devil came here yesterday," referring to Bush, who addressed the world body during its annual meeting. "And it smells of sulfur still today."

I liked Chavez immediately for his bravado. Venezuela has a lot of 'issues' but they've also got a lot going for them.

It's great that you would highlight one of their enlightened social policies. Hopefully we can learn from them, musically and otherwise.