Queen's University

Queen's Community Music, in partnership with The Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending Library (Joe's M.I.L.L.) and First Avenue Public School (Limestone District School Board), was excited to launch Sistema Kingston in 2015 - an intensive after school music program for at-risk children that focuses on positive social change through the pursuit of musical excellence.

Through free, group centered music instruction, Sistema Kingston emphasizes inclusivity and teamwork, builds personal persistence, and fosters creativity and personal responsibility in all of its activities. Using the Venezuelan El Sistema as its model, Sistema Kingston aspires to bring social change to inspire children to reach their full potential as students, musicians and citizens.


Sistema Kingston embraces the five principles of Venezuelan El Sistema:
  • Social Change - social transformation through the pursuit of musical excellence. One happens through the other and neither is prioritized at the expense of the other.
  • Ensembles - The focus is on the group experience (orchestral/choral) and working toward a common goal. Peer mentoring is integral to the experience.
  • Frequency - El Sistema ensembles meet multiple times every week for multiple hours at a time over extended periods.
  • Accessibility - El Sistema programs are free and inclusive to all.
  • Connectivity - El Sistema programs foster connectivity between students, teachers and families to build stronger communities. El Sistema programs are linked at the community, regional and national levels, forming a cohesive network of services, resource sharing collaborative opportunities and advocacy in support of each other.

In its first year, Sistema Kingston was housed at First Avenue Public School, with participation of 20 students from grades 2-4. Year 2 (2016-17) saw the addition of another 20 students in grades 2-3, building on the program now housed at the new Molly Brant Public School. Year 3 (2017-18) will see a further addition of 20 more students in grades 2-3. Highly qualified instructors are drawn from the professional music community. Mentors, assistants and volunteers come from Queen's University, high school communities, and youth support workers. If you would like to volunteer with Sistema Kingstonfollow this link.


Successes of El Sistema inspired programs in other Canadian locations (Ottawa OrkidstraSistema TorontoSistema New Brunswick) demonstrate that participatory music learning develops confidence, respect, discipline and other positive life skills. Developing strong and positive children builds strong and positive communities. Our Sistema Kingston initiative was announced in December 2014 and launched in October 2015, with the generous founding support of The Learning Partnership and the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area. We continue to seek matching funds to these generous grants!

El Sistema founder Jose Antonio Abreu said "Teach children the beauty of music, and music will teach them the beauty of life." Please join us in our efforts to bring beauty into the life of a child. 

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