I read somewhere, recently, that when a young person studies music, he/she doesn’t learn what to think, but more importantly how to think. Clearly this could have been helpful in the case of Toronto District School Board’s Director, Chris Spence, forced to step down after multiple counts of plagiarism. Or how about Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, who is facing allegations of crack cocaine use?Â Clearly these two men, leaders in Toronto, could have/should have had the benefit of music education earlier in their lives.
But tomorrow, the trustees of the Toronto District School Board will vote to shut down the itinerant music program for young students in the GTA. As a former itinerant music teacher (in this program) I witnessed the positive benefits for many inner city kids who got a chance to learn to play a musical instrument and play in a band, something they might never otherwise have been able to do.
Ironically, El Sistema, a music program run on hope, dedication and private funding, will celebrate the success of another year with a finale concert.
El Sistema, was created 30 years ago in Venezuela byÂ Dr. Jose Antonia Abreu. Each year over a quarter of a million impoverished children in Venezuela are offered music instruction (and the chance to think creatively and be a part of something positive).
The Toronto chapter of El Sistema teaches music to children in Parkdale, four afternoons a week, after school. Participants are taught to play a string instrument and rehearse in a string orchestra. Next year, El Sistema (Toronto) will expand to include students in the Jane-Finch community.
Tonight, one day before school trustees make their decision on the very possible demise of the itinerant music program for children, the inspirational El Sistema, will hold its finale concert of the year at Parkdale Public School, 78 Seaforth Avenue in Toronto at 5 pm.
For more information, please visit sistema-toronto.ca.