I’ve had several people encourage me to write a book. I always laugh. My third, eighth, and eleventh grade teachers all encouraged me to stick to the trumpet… and believe me, it wasn’t because they thought I was a good trumpet player. However, after years of planning and implementing an El Sistema-inspired music program based on social values, I’ve learned a lot through the process and want to share my thoughts and findings.
It is my dream that one day, the City of Philadelphia will have ensemble programs in every community and that a child could walk ten blocks or less to fully immerse themselves in the musical process. It is my dream that one day, professional musicians will be the mentors to these young children, creating a strong bond between their art and the communities they serve. However, it is my ultimate dream to leave this city better than the way I found it and I believe there is no better way than sharing my love for music with others. This is my duty and responsibility as an artist and a human being.
The French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery inspired me several years ago with the quote: “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” We have a lot of work ahead of us to teach people to long for the endless opportunities music can provide and build the proper resources to do so.
This is Music for Social Action. This is not a new strategy. This is not a new concept. This is not a new idea. Philadelphia has seen this before and throughout the past century, the focus of this strategy has shifted. I hope you’ll follow my stream of thoughts and experiences as I try to connect the dots and make a big dream become a reality.