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Programs across North Carolina use classical music to combat poverty

Jun 6, 2014

Can classical music training help lift kids out of poverty? North Carolina nonprofit Kidznoteswas launched in 2010 to prove it can.

With the mission to change the life trajectory of at-risk K-12 students through orchestral training, Kidznotes now serves eight elementary schools in Durham and Raleigh.

Kidznotes was inspired by the music education program known as "el Sistema," in Venezuela. Perhaps most well-known in the United States for one of its graduates, Gustavo Dudamel, a Grammy-award-winning conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, el Sistema has grown to have a profound impact in Venezuela's poorest communities.

As an experiment to combat poverty, economist and musician Jose Antonio Abreu gathered 11 children in a parking garage in 1975 to play music. Today, el Sistema supports 31 symphony orchestras across the country with over 350,000 children attending its music schools the vast majority of whom come from low-wealth communities.

Across North Carolina, there are two additional el Sistema programs. The Charlotte Symphony has been running a program at Winterfield Elementary for three years with more than 60 children. This fall, the Asheville Symphony is partnering with the Leever Foundation to launch an el Sistema program in Hendersonville. Blythe Elementary in Huntersville has also created MusicalMinds, a program along el Sistema principles, for its students.

Full article at Charlotte Observer