Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music
  • Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music
  • Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music

Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music

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by Tricia Tunstall
     
 

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“Reminds us of how arts education can change lives.” —Gary Stager, Huffington Post
In this “vivid story” (Economist), Tricia Tunstall “chronicles the origins and growth of Venezuela’s acclaimed El Sistema national music education program” (Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times) and illustrates its overarching goal: to…  See more details below

Overview

“Reminds us of how arts education can change lives.” —Gary Stager, Huffington Post
In this “vivid story” (Economist), Tricia Tunstall “chronicles the origins and growth of Venezuela’s acclaimed El Sistema national music education program” (Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times) and illustrates its overarching goal: to rescue children from the depredations of poverty through music. What began in Venezuela has extended to Los Angeles, New York City, and Baltimore, illustrating that El Sistema is not just a program, it’s a movement. Combining firsthand interviews with compelling stories, Changing Lives reveals that arts education can indeed effect positive social change in the United States and around the world.

Editorial Reviews

Quincy Jones
“Essential reading for every one of us who cares passionately about our neediest children.”
Deborah Borda
“We are fortunate to have the story of El Sistema related so eloquently.”
Publishers Weekly
Every day in Venezuela, nearly 400,000 children—mostly from poor families—spend hours learning music and playing in the country’s hundreds of youth orchestras. Gustavo Dudamel, the 28-year-old conductor, is perhaps the most famous product of these music programs, and journalist Tunstall, in a compelling, readable book that is part history and part social activism, uses Dudamel’s youthful exuberance and enthusiasm for music and these programs as an example of the way that music education can be a tool for social transformation. More than 40 years ago, Tunstall explains, Venezuelan musician and economist José Antonio Abreu, himself once a poor young man from the countryside, founded El Sistema, a nationwide music education program funded primarily by the government. Abreu’s vision for the program is simple but revolutionary: music can save lives and be a potent vehicle in the fight against the perils of childhood poverty, such as gang membership, drugs, and violence. Abreu believes that if you put a violin in the hands of a needy child, that child will not pick up a gun; a child who holds an instrument feels entrusted with something of value and feels competent, worthwhile, and empowered to teach others. El Sistema has been so effective in Venezuela that programs like it are starting to develop in the U. S. and other parts of the world, and Tunstall urges state and local governments to consider establishing such programs in their communities. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Gustavo Dudamel, the young and exuberant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, is the most famous graduate of El Sistema, the remarkable music education program in Venezuela, whose laudable purpose is to use the experience of orchestral playing as a means of giving new meaning to the lives of impoverished children. The twin goals of equal access and artistic excellence have resulted in dozens of outstanding youth orchestras that have captivated audiences and won international prizes. The phenomenal success of this 35-year-old program has spawned El Sistema-like organizations in the United States, where many communities are seeking novel ways of turning low-income youth away from drugs and violence. Tunstall (Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson), a music educator, has witnessed her subject firsthand by traveling to Venezuela and interviewing dozens of children and teachers in the program, including their venerable founder, José Abreu. VERDICT This passionate and inspiring story should be read by all those interested in music education, community building, and advocacy for the disadvantaged. An essential purchase. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/11.]—Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA
Kirkus Reviews
The story of "El Sistema, an extraordinary program for children and youth in Venezuela, where music education and social reform have been fused on a national scale with astonishing results." Music educator Tunstall (Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson, 2008) traveled to South America, California and elsewhere to explore the El Sistema's global groundswell. Founded in 1975 by pianist José Antonio Abreu, the movement, which currently serves nearly 300,000 underprivileged children throughout Venezuela alone, seeks to develop civic engagement and social responsibility by engaging youth with the rigors of the musical discipline and the interpersonal dynamics of playing in an instrumental ensemble. El Sistema has been profoundly successful, earning massive government support in Venezuela and spawning dozens of offshoots throughout the world, including the United States. Having produced arguably the most celebrated conductor today, 30-year-old Gustavo Dudamel, the program has become the most symbolic example of the social relevance that classical music can have in today's cultural landscape. Tunstall soundly probes how it is that classical music has played such a powerful role in the protection, education and elevation of so many children born into poverty. The author does a noble job tracing the history of El Sistema, while managing to keep the narrative as much in the immediate present as possible. Occasionally, Tunstall's otherwise enjoyable and sincere narrative becomes infected with the hyperbole endemic to classical music culture. Transformation, intellectual awe and spiritual uplift are notions that have always coded classical music with elitism while masking its deep anxiety over its own relevancy. Yet the author does readers a service by drawing attention to the group energy, individual artistry and organizational power that the social structures of classical music require. Tunstall is at times flatly earnest, even sappy, but never at the expense of conveying what is truly inspiring about her subject.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393344264
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/04/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
665,077
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Quincy Jones
Essential reading for every one of us who cares passionately about our neediest children.

Meet the Author

Tricia Tunstall is both a writer and a music educator. The author of Changing Lives and Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson, she has written for the Kenyon Review and the New York Times. She lives in Maplewood, New Jersey.

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Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book ... unconditionally!
MarkPen More than 1 year ago
If you know about El Sistema of even if you don't this is a must read you will be glued to the book and not be able to put it down . It will remind you why you are involved with music . It is an amazing true story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago