My sister Tiza and I grew up in Venezuela and were fortunate to attend a school (Emil Friedman) where music was an essential part of our education. Every student was required to take recorder, a Venezuelan cuatro and musical theory classes every year from first through 12th grade. I was part of the school’s choir, took piano and flute lessons while Tiza took piano and viola lessons. Needless to say, music was a normal every day part of our lives. Music is very important to me and with this has come a desire to introduce my boys to music in all its forms. We have been to musicals, plays and concerts that have been performed by amateurs and professionals, by children and by adults.
There is an organization in Venezuela that in the recent past has become better known because of Gustavo Dudamel’s involvement with it. El Sistema (see story on El Sistema that ran on 60 Minutes) is a Venezuelan music education program that was founded by an economist and musician, Jose Antonio Abreu, nearly 40 years ago. It teaches approximately 350,000 children through youth orchestras and musical instrument training programs all over Venezuela. The achievements and benefits of El Sistema are fantasticaly exhibited in a film called Tocar y Luchar (To Play and To Fight). This documentary is just over 1 hour long but well worth watching. You will be inspired!
Miami now counts with anamazing organization called Miami Music Project that is part of El Sistema. This organization provides low cost or free musical education and I have personally seen how the achievements of many of these children make them proud of themselves as well as their family and friends. My children will be joining this program at the beginning of the next school year, and I would recommend it to everyone! I’ve learned and experienced many benefits of music, but here are a few positive facts* of music:
- Enhances intelligence, learning and IQ
- Improves memory performance
- Improves concentration and attention
- Improves athletic performance
- Improves body movement and coordination
- Improves productivity
- Reduces stress and aids relaxation
- Induces sleep
- Improves mood and decreases depression
- Boosts immunity
- Speeds post-stroke recovery
- Reduces blood pressure
- Is an effective therapy for pain
I hope you’ll be inspired to include music in your day to day activities!
*For more in depth information you can go here.