The Esperanza Music Project
Created November  1, 2011 by Anne Allan
**“If a child plays an instrument, he is no longer poor”
- Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, Founder of El Sistema Venezuela**
According to the October 2011 report by the Community Foundation of Mississauga entitled “Mississauga’s Vital Signs”, the percentage of children living in poverty in Mississauga is 26.1%, which is higher than the provincial and national rate. This report also states that “based on income, family size and 50 percent of household income required for basic amenities such as food and shelter, approximately 1 in 4 families in Mississauga are struggling to provide the basics for their families”.
The mandate of **The Esperanza Music Project** is to provide the opportunity for underserved children in Mississauga to study music in a group setting and to use the skills gained through collaborative music-making to foster social change. The discipline that musical excellence demands and the emotional bonds it creates through mutual struggle and celebration are what will bring about social change. The children will learn the value of hard work, collaboration and compassion.
The children in the program will learn an orchestral instrument (violin, cello, clarinet and flute) and sing in a choir three days a week after school and will be provided with a nutritious snack. The focus of learning will be group lessons. This will be a safe environment for children at the time when they could otherwise be at the greatest risk.
**The Esperanza Music Project will**:
1. provide music instruction through group lessons and the opportunity to perform in the Hopekids Orchestra and Hopekids Choir to children in Mississauga
2. encourage hard work, compassion and co-operation, build confidence and self-esteem and spark creativity and ambition in each individual student and therefore foster a positive social impact in the greater Mississauga community
3. promote community leadership through mentoring opportunities for students to assist other students who are participating in the program
4. enhance the community’s understanding of the value of music and the positive role that it can play in the lives of children
Our goal is to implement the program in September 2012 with 24 young musicians between the ages of 6 and 10 with plans to expand the program to 34 children in the second year and 58 in year three.
We are seeking **$32,700 in funding for Year 1** that will allow us to implement the program in September 2012 including registering students, recruiting teachers, renting instruments and purchasing program supplies. To date we have raised $1,000 through a fund-raising concert and $400 in membership fees. Further fund-raising events are being planned including a May 2012 concert.
The Esperanza Music Project was incorporated in August 2011 with a five member volunteer Board of Directors and 20 supporting members. The Esperanza Music Project is in the process of becoming affiliated with the City of Mississauga, which means we will be provided with free space in a community centre in an area designated as “at risk” by the city. We are also pursuing charitable status that we hope to receive in 2012.
Community support is essential to the program. In September, we held a very successful fundraising concert at Cooksville United Church and the space was very generously donated. The project was featured in an article in the Mississauga Booster on Sept. 8th along with an appearance on Rogers Peel Daytime television.
**Inspiration for Program**
The Esperanza Music Project is inspired by the El Sistema program in Venezuela, which is a national after-school music education program offering classical music ensemble experiences for individuals from ages 3 to 30. El Sistema was founded in 1975 by Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, an economist and musician who had the vision that the orchestra was an instrument to improve young lives.
The five fundamentals of El Sistema are:
1. Social Change: The primary objective is social transformation through the pursuit of musical excellence. One happens through the other, and neither is prioritized at the expense of the other
2. Ensembles: the focus of El Sistema is the orchestral or choral experience
3. Frequency: El Sistema ensembles meet multiple times every week over extended periods
4. Accessibility: El Sistema programs are free, and are not selective in admission
5. Connectivity: Every nucleo (music school) is linked at the urban, regional and national levels, forming a cohesive network of services and opportunities for students across the country.
**El Sistema in Canada**
There are currently three other El Sistema programs running in Canada - in New Brunswick, Ottawa and Toronto.
Website address for The Esperanza Music Project in Mississauga is: http://www.facebook.com/EsperanzaMusicProject