El Sistema Serbia
At the moment I started writing this, there were about 3 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, nearly 1.5 million in Europe alone. Now, here in my home country of Serbia, the situation is settling, and everything is easier. The media is already back to discussing the economy, politics, and showbusiness. No one seems to mention how hard this is for the school system. Students are used to contact with their teachers—eye-to-eye conversations in real classrooms—and now everything is online.
El Sistema Kenya (Ghetto Classics) has come up with an art lab where children between the ages of 5 to 7 can learn music in a safe and clean environment. Most of the arts programs in the community start with students 9 years or older, but this neglects younger children who deserve the opportunity to engage with the arts. The art lab in our community gives young children a way to develop their natural talents from an early age. Children get a chance to be involved in creative workshops and learn to play an instrument. The lab also offers dance and basic drawing. From a young age, these children get a chance to learn how to make instruments, such as percussive instruments using recycled materials. Not only do the beneficiaries acquire self-confidence and practical skills, but they also get the opportunity to meet people outside their usual social group.
Music Art Project (MAP) was founded in 2010 with the mission to contribute to the long-term development of society and culture in Serbia. Four years later, MAP launched the El Sistema-inspired program “Music of Hope” to help as many children and youth as possible appreciate music and enjoy its beauty together. In less than three years, Music of Hope has grown from 30 to 600 children in seven cities through collaboration with public elementary schools, music schools, and cultural and social-welfare centers.