This community-based, high-quality program has allowed children from all backgrounds to receive access to music instruction. Teachers in the program are music professionals and trained educators who are fully committed to growing their students’ self-esteem and talents. Public performance, caring mentorship and skilled instruction all combine to make Sistema Tulsa a standout for music in our community.”

— Dr. Deborah Gist, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent

Mission & Vision

How did Sistema Tulsa come about? 

Since its early beginnings, the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church has been a haven for music. The church is host to numerous choirs, instrumental ensembles, and partner to local musical organizations. Countless people learn and perform music at the church. Sistema Tulsa is a continuation of the unwavering commitment to create beauty and recognize that beauty in others as they learn and perform music. In 2013, our Senior Pastor and Director of Music were moved by the example of El Sistema and together with the congregation discerned that God was leading the church to host a chapter for children in the Tulsa community.  The church then hired a full-time director closely connected with the national El Sistema movement.  Together with a group of dedicated leaders and advisors, we launched the program and welcomed the inaugural group of students in September of 2015.  As an example of an innovative mission for the church, we trust that imparting music education can encourage children and youth to reach their full potential and awaken God’s promise of a fruitful life. 

What is our mission? 

Our mission is to nurture community and improve people’s lives through the practice of music.

What  do we envision? 

Sistema Tulsa envisions how a comprehensive and inclusive music education program can positively impact the social, cognitive, and aesthetic realms of youth development. We strive to provide a model for accessible, ensemble-based music programs that enrich the lives of local youth across varied underserved communities. 

How do we make our work happen?

We rely on partnerships to sustain our work. We work with school and community leaders, church advisors, teachers, and families. We reach out to mission-aligned funders and collaborate with the Tulsa Public Schools and other local organizations to leverage our work. We work locally but are also connected to the national and international "El Sistema" movement. 

What are the principles that guide our work? 

Our program is inspired by the "El Sistema" educational philosophy. 

  • We believe that all children and youth should have access to the arts and actively participate in that experience.
  • We believe that effective education happens in a context of a community where everyone is responsible for its success. 
  • We believe that overcoming challenges is best done by strengthening the spirit. Creating excellence and beauty in music can help us recognize our inner capacity to thrive.
  • We believe that organizations never arrive but are always becoming. As a result, we have designated our program to be a laboratory for learning, reflection, and innovation.