Work in SO DO Centres takes place throughout the school year as an after school activity of music education for children, through orchestral music making. The programme is free of charge for participants, but because of its intensity it requires the full support of parents and carers.
The main feature of the “El Sistema” method is intensive work – daily group learning and practising, orchestral sections and full orchestra rehearsals, as well as frequent public appearances. The programme starts with children of pre-school age and continues as they progress through the educational system. As the number of orchestra players increases with each generation, children of various ages play together. Older children help the younger ones and the more advanced ones help the less skilled ones. This peer teaching is another important feature of the “El Sistema” method.
Parents are encouraged to attend children’s concerts regularly, and to invite families, relatives, neighbours, colleagues, friends and acquaintances. This way the wider community becomes familiar with classical music, which in turn becomes a part of their daily life.
Due to its technical and artistic nature, learning music when part of an orchestra encourages self-esteem building, a spirit of solidarity and fraternity, as well as ethical and aesthetic values. It contributes to personality building and intellectual development, improvement of sensibility and better communication skills. Youngsters also get into the habit of sharing their knowledge and experience with others.
Orchestras are like a school of “social life”. Working together successfully with a view to achieving excellence under rigorous discipline and keeping synchronicity and harmonious interdependency between sections, voices and instruments is what playing music together instills in youngsters. This is a way through which the orchestra as a community is capable of achieving a balance of values, guaranteeing the conceptual, emotional and social communication of the musical message.