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Sistema Aotearoa Making a Difference in Lives of Children

Sistema Aotearoa Making a Difference in the Lives of Children- AUT Report

An AUT University report evaluating the Sistema Aotearoa programme has discovered that the programme has not only enjoyed a successful initial year, it is also having a marked effect on the participating children, their families and the Otara community.

Sistema Aotearoa is the result of an Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Ministry for Culture and Heritage partnership, based on El Sistema, one of the world’s most successful music programmes. The programme uses orchestral music-making as a model for social development.

A trial has involved primary school children in Otara, learning an orchestral instrument for one year, immersing them in a collective teaching process.

AUT University’s Institute of Public Policy (IPP) and Kinnect Group have now independently evaluated the first year of the programme.

David Wilson, lead researcher and director of IPP, says the evaluation highlighted the high performance of the programme, along with its strong leadership and management, good systems and structures and high levels of community support.

He says there is also promising early evidence that the programme may well be contributing to a range of social, developmental, musical and educational outcomes.

“These are promising findings that lend themselves to longer-term research investigating the programme’s effects. For example the ‘transference’ of group musical education to other areas of development, such as academic achievement, is not proven. Yet there is enough evidence here and from international experience to suspect that there is something very special about the Sistema method.”

Dr Joe Harrop, programme director of Sistema Aotearoa, says the evaluation is important to the ongoing success of the programme in several ways - the learning and teaching, the community liaison, the programme delivery and its subsequent outcomes.

“The most important success of the programme will be a critical mass of proud, assured, aspiring and contributing citizens,” he says. “people who have shared the joy and benefits of fun, disciplined, collaborative work from an early age. It vividly shows the power of music-making as an instrument of social change.”

Sistema Aotearoa is based at Otara Music Arts Centre (OMAC) and involves professionally trained musicians working with students in a community setting after school and in holidays. Trained professionals teach junior basic musicianship and the skills of playing an instrument in a way that is suitable to the age group involved.

Almost all children in the trial year were aged between five and eight years old and nearly all were from Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean or Cook Island families.


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