I am humbled to be able to share the stage with so many amazing people at TEDx Peachtree. I was also impressed with how organized the event was and the beautiful downtown Atlanta location at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I was pretty nervous as the previous speaker made his concluding thought. Al Myers, the TEDx Peachtree Licensee, and a huge supporter of the el Sistema Atlanta initiative, introduced a short movie produced by TED about el Sistema and the el Sistema USA movement.
I have seen the movie several times and I could feel the hair raise on my neck and goosebumps form on my arm as I felt the room stop breathing. Everyone was captivated by the message of the movie. The movie got me fired up and the confidence came back to me as I began my talk about el Sistema:
"El Sistema is more than a music program. It's an example of real life. To play or sing together means to intimately coexist towards harmony, self-esteem, excellence, structure and forging practical skills and values that are needed today. These skills are essential for professional success and personal fulfillment. Honestly, these skills determines who gets ahead and who doesn't.
As Abreu mentioned in the movie, in the personal circle, music develops the intellectual and emotional side into fully developing one's personality. Those traits of leadership, posing and solving problems, commitment, creativity, dedication, responsibility, and achieving collective goals are encouraged through music education.
We need more left brain thinkers like Dr. Jill Bolton Taylor mentioned in her TED talk about studying her own stroke as it happened and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery. She mentioned experiencing nirvana the morning of the stroke as she slipped in and out of mental consciousness. I have experienced this same sense of nirvana she described through the musical process. These experiences and traits give a kid an identity and creates possibilities for them to embrace new dreams and goals.
In the circle of the family, while kids seek to better themselves on an instrument, those skills will transfer to other parts of their life. They will seek ways to make their friendships, relationships, families, churches, schools, and communities better.
In the circle of the community, music creates unity, a space for culture and new meaning. The moment they play their first note, they are on a new trajectory of building a new life.
Let me share two secrets with you:
1) The infrastructure of El Sistema is already in Atlanta. We have great teachers and performers in our communities and world class musicians and musical organizations in every musical genre.
2) There is no such thing as music disability. There is only music possibility within every child.
I am joined by a talented team and I am fired up about the possibilities as we identify the will within the city to develop el Sistema here.