El Sistema advocates that music has the power to change the future for children, their families and their community by adhering to, among others, the three most fundamental principles of the model:
- That social change can be achieved by teaching, learning and playing music in large ensembles. Musicians come together to rehearse and perform because these are the acts that yield social benefit. (Five Fundamentals, Jonathan Govias, Abreu Fellow 2010/ Sistema England)
- That social change through music is primarily a result of community learning through the pursuit of musical excellence. One happens through the other, and neither is prioritized above the other. (Five Fundamentals, Jonathan Govias, Abreu Fellow 2010/ Sistema England)
- That El Sistema-embracing teachers care about the whole child. "They must be competent, adaptable, flexible, and have problem-solving abilities" (Jonathan Govias, Blog, 2011). El Sistema advocates and teachers understand that curriculum, pedagogy and technique are necessary but not sufficient for the overall effectiveness of a music teacher/educator i.e. what we teach is 80% of who we are. (El Sistema's Open Secrets, Eric Booth, April 2010)
The El Sistema SIG presents the following Aims
To provide a forum within the ISME Conferences, for the gathering of individuals who are drawn together by their strong interest in understanding (through evidence from philosophy, research and pedagogy) how music ensemble - learning and playing may function as a means by which social inclusion and change can occur.
To facilitate networking and the sharing of information (via round table discussions and paper presentation on related research). As well, convenors believe that it is through dialogue that we can challenge assumptions, on different contextual issues, embedded in one's way of thinking as a result of background and experience of the El Sistema model in one’s country of origin.
To attract teachers/educators associated with best practice models world-wide. Their experience, methodology and challenges will inform and guide the focus and priorities for future research.
To raise awareness of the possible gains of this fascinating model to the entire ISME community by bringing evidence gathered from systematic research on the relationships between music and social inclusion.
To form a loosely built community of researchers, practitioners and performers. Under the prestigious umbrella of ISME acting as the catalyst, the international El Sistema - modelled community aspires to disseminate current research, practical field experiences and knowledge as well as guidelines/resources about existing and newly-formed El Sistema initiatives and Sistema teacher - training programs world-wide.