This year has been such a blessing for our students and families. I was so proud when we performed the Joy Concert a few days ago and our youngest students recited the Sistema guidelines. They are learning that their journey of learning music involves taking the initiative to learn, being a performer, celebrating and being understanding of each other. When new students join, we welcome them in this culture and we can help them to grow as productive (and caring for each other) citizens.
For me, it is very easy to make the case for how music education should be a part of every young person's life, because I've seen what happens to students when they work at something they love - diligently and carefully.
I've known Solomon for 8 years now. When he was at Burroughs Elementary he rode the bus to Sistema each day to start with trumpet lessons and he met Wynton Marsalis when he was our special guest here. Fast forward to now, he is a Senior and teaches in the program, and gets paid to do so. On his first day, he came prepared and brought his own rhythm materials to teach the students. He was patient and kind in how he related to the younger students. Solomon is practicing to audition for state and national festivals. He is considering joining the military and playing music to represent our nation. Throughout all this time, he has had successes and also setbacks, but Sistema has always been a constant and a place where he can always call home.
Five hundred students have already been part of this program and they have all learned the value of perseverance through music and most importantly, love and care for this community and for each other. I am so thankful that we can offer this gift to everyone free of cost. And that we can be part of this meaningful journey to improve young people's lives.
By Jose Luis Hernandez