Musical Futures: ‘a radical alternative’ to El Sistema

Musical Futures has been recognised in Dr Geoffrey Baker’s recent investigation of the Venezuelan instrumental and social music education programme. In ‘El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth’, Baker describes MF as ‘one of the most radical and promising music education initiatives’, the influence of which is spreading internationally. He praises MF’s grounding in research on classroom-based informal learning; the prioritization of listening, improvising, and composing as key skills in the learning process; and the student-led nature of the approach.

The book suggests that there is room for much improvement in the Venezuelan approach. He draws direct comparisons between El Sistema and Musical Futures:

“El Sistema requires an extraordinary and continuous outlay of money on infrastructure and instruments, primarily for the program’s elite students, and would fall apart without the continuous injection of huge funds. It also creates dependency through its educational practices and monopolisation of funding. Musical Futures represents a radical alternative: a genuinely new pedagogy, and a grassroots movement led by teachers and students rather than a central institution. With minimal funding required, it is not only much cheaper but also more self-sufficient and sustainable than El Sistema.”

A review of Dr Baker’s book can be found here.

Yesterday’ss RSL course was absolutely outstanding. The school was awe inspiring and just walking round the corridors gave me some excellent ideas to implement at my own school. With regards to the RSL aspect of the course, I now have a strong understanding on how to run it and know how my assignment briefs should look etc. etc.

Jack Cotton – Broadgreen International School, Liverpool

The children I am working with are responding to positively. They are very keen to learn new music and don’t not feel threatened to play. They enjoy the ‘have a go’ and ‘just play’ strategy.

Mhairi Easton, Southesk primary School

Great sessions which catered for a diverse team of staff. Really good feedback and positive outcomes.

Lindsay Thomas, One Education Music