We don't mean to do it, but we do it every day and see it in all the papers and on the news.
We talk about disparity but then cloak it with low expectation. We reel off statistics about life expectancies of socioeconomically poor communities, children and racial groupings with a sad glint in our eyes. But what we fail to see it that these conditions and expected outcomes are to some extent governed by what we do, and what we think - both of ourselves and of others too.
In actuality this 'low expectation' extends to all children - so it becomes a limiting aspect for all Australian society.
What if we were able to turn that around and reset those 'expectations' - replacing that with
"I can do almost anything if I try and strive for it"? To a greater extent that is what Symphony For Life is all about: the resetting of these expectations; creating self-belief, and faith in determining one's future. We can build on our achievements by having a fearless attitude to challenging and difficult tasks - in whatever form they take.
For the children in the Symphony For Life program, it goes a little like this:
- Learning the violin is difficult.
- I am learning a difficult thing
- It's only difficult (not impossible)
- I am good at learning the violin
- I am good at playing the violin - a very difficult thing
- I am good at learning and playing difficult things
- I wonder what other difficult things I can do?
For many children, either low or no expectations have restricted them - held them back from achieving things that others seem to master. Too hard? No encouragement? They give up as they are not clever enough or smart enough or worse, not good enough.
Symphony For Life seeks to set big challenges up in the minds of children, but they are helped, encouraged, taught things in a way they can easily assimilate and gain knowledge from and then to practice their skills together - experientially.
But it doesn't stop there. Symphony For Life helps young people to work, think and act for themselves in a positive way - through a process of social learning. To be empowered to gradually take over responsibility for themselves musically, allows them to feel that they are responsible for their own destiny – musical, or otherwise. The child perceives this as analogous in the context of the wider life - to take responsibility (and feel empowered to do so) for their own circumstance in life. They are no longer a victim of disadvantaged circumstances, but can become masters of their own destiny - empowered and powerful.
And so the young person begins to see that self-reliance, responsibility for their own lives in the context of a wider community is a natural thing to do, as individuals working within a team, with parallel individual and collective goals.
To have true social change or transformation in children, and in communities, you must have social learning. It is an absolute; it enables the value from Symphony For Life's social action and the resulting transformation to be sustained for their entire lives.
Social Action through music!
Following on from the successful piloting of Australia's first El Sistema-based social action music education program for children living in disadvantaged communities - via Sistema Australia - we have created the Symphony For Life Foundation.