New Brunswick Youth Orchestra


In Venezuela there is a remarkable example of the power of music in the form of El Sistema, a national music education program that recruits children from impoverished rural areas and urban slums to become members of youth orchestras. This program, created by Dr. José Antonio Abreu thirty years ago, involves over 350,000 disadvantaged children and has become world-renowned for its ability to give its participants skills, hope, and opportunity. Studies have shown that a high level of involvement in instrumental music in school results in greater proficiency in mathematics and languages, in addition to the focus and self-esteem that come from achievement.

There are almost 25,000 children in N.B. living in poverty – about one child out of six. The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra brings together the province’s most promising musicians (aged 12-22) through a competitive process; they perform in high schools and other venues around the province, tour elsewhere, and produce recordings. The Sistema program, launched in New Brunswick in 2009, is designed not to train musicians as such, but to involve young people in selected school districts where the need is greatest.

Full Description

This grant is to help expand the Sistema program from its first centre in Moncton to four sites with 500 children by 2014. Each site is located in a school district with Community Schools that extend their traditional function to a larger role of being centres of opportunity for children, youth, and families, strenghthening the sense of community by acting as a hub for a range of activities and services for all ages. Partnership with the Sistema program entails provision of dedicated space, busing for children after school, assistance in recruiting and selecting participants and school staff support.

The El Sistema model is being considered by several groups across Canada, and the grant will also provide support for activities aimed at disseminating the Sistema model to other parts of the country.


Visit the Sistema New Brunswick website for more information.


  • 2010-2013
  • $ 200,000
  • Funding Type: Past Initiatives
  • Initiatives: General contributions