Childs Play India Foundation - exploring a new mode of community music making in India

  • Sebanti Chatterjee University of Delhi


El Sistema, a music education programme with social upliftment as its core belief, began in Venezuela under the directions of Jose Antonio Abreu in the year 1975. It acquired Governmental support in 1977 when it became a youth development program.  Since then, this pedagogic framework has spread across various countries. Not only does it allow the children to immerse into the process of making music in an ensemble, it also opens up interaction opportunities between the educators, patrons and parents (Witkowski 2015). Geoffrey Baker gives an insight into the autocratic and competitive elements of the El Sistema Programme (Baker 2014).

When physician, musician, and a keen supporter of the arts, Luis Dias discovered about this international movement accidentally, during his visit to the BBC Proms in the year 2007, it moved him deeply. He felt that his native State Goa would immensely benefit from replicating such a model. In 2009, he founded the Childs Play India Foundation.

This paper reflects on various questions. It explores how El Sistema framework functions in India (Goa), a country receiving moderate support from the Government in terms of music education, particularly, Western Classical music. Due to their Western Classical legacy and a Catholic ethic, Goans nurture music by introducing community participation. How does music pedagogy impact the underprivileged kids and the educators? In closing off the elitist associations of classical music, how does it expand the scope of music pedagogy? What role does performance and entrepreneurship play in this process?


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