West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Crescendo, El Sistema-Inspired Music Education Program

“Music has to be recognised as an agent of social development….it has the ability to ignite an entire community, and to express sublime feelings.” Jose Antonio Abreu, Founder, El Sistema Venezuela

In a recent survey completed by teachers at participating schools at the end of 2015, 100% of respondents felt that the West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s Crescendo Program was relevant to their students’ music education. They felt the words ‘happy’, ‘engaged’ and ‘supported’ were most relevant to their students’ response to Crescendo. Respondents felt their students had learned to have fun with music, to listen and to be confident. They also felt there are specific students who particularly benefit from participation in this free music education program.

“This program complements the Arts Curriculum and the literacy, numeracy and social skill development priorities of the school. The program itself is engaging for the children, relevant, provides extension and offers the opportunity to tap into the yet unknown potential of the children. We are extremely grateful for this program.” Teacher, North Parmelia Primary School.

In Term 4 2014, WASO launched its long-term El Sistema-inspired Music Education Program in three Kwinana schools. WASO’s Crescendo program is modelled on the internationally acclaimed and highly successful El Sistema program which started in Venezuela in 1975 and seeks to empower children from disadvantaged backgrounds through classical music, using it as a tool to help them reach their full potential and learn life values. In 2015, 174 children participated in Crescendo across the three schools.

Currently Pre-primary, Year 1 and Year 2 students at Medina Primary School and North Parmelia Primary School receive vocal lessons once a week using movement, games, songs and percussion instruments. Each year we will add the new Pre-Primary students to the program, until all students in Years Pre-Primary to 6 in these schools are participating in the program. In Pre-Primary and Year 1, the focus is on vocal lessons to encourage the children to use their built-in instrument and feel encouraged to “give it a go”. Vocal lessons have also proven to be a great foundation for future skill-based learning. From Year 2, students will be introduced to string instruments.

The program also aims to connect students and the community to classical music experiences to which they may not otherwise have access. At no cost to the families or schools, students attend WASO’s full orchestra primary school concert at the Perth Concert Hall, and a concert by the Education Chamber Orchestra (EChO) in Kwinana. Both concerts include opportunities for students and the community to meet WASO musicians and have-a-go on student-sized instruments.

The Sistema model is built on the core values of Excellence, Ambition, Intensity, Achievement, Inclusion and the development of joyful, responsible contributing citizens. WASO will incorporate these values into its program through its Teaching Artists, peer-to-peer performances and by celebrating the successes of students throughout the program.

To find out more about Crescendo, WASO’s El Sistema-inspired program, please contact Cassandra Lake, Executive Manager, Community Engagement on lakec@waso.com.au or visit waso.com.au/education