Thursday, January 08, 2009

Towards a new Youth Orchestra Movement in the US (Part One?)

I’ve been fascinated by how the Venezuelan orchestra system gets turned into something that looks like a franchise (“El Sistema”), and how people become desperate to get its secret recipe, because the franchise includes a promise that results come fast and in large numbers. I experienced it in Guatemala about 10 years ago, and this let’s-get-this-franchise-going frenzy repeated itself there again, in 2008.

It is clear that one of the strengths of Venezuela’s orchestra movement is in the numbers; therefore, replication is a must. But it took me some time to realize that growth is not a franchise-like replication. It will not entail simply copying organizational structures, pedagogical methods, or artistic goals. I’ve been always curious to understand and willing to discuss what is the core of the Venezuelan system as it is today. With each new initiative, which parts of the Venezuelan model should be replicated and which not? And how?