Sistema in Norwich works to transform the lives of children and young people through participation in music, seeking to help children realise their potential and succeed across all areas of their lives.
We do this through engaging them in learning to play a musical instrument and being part of an orchestra, starting at 7 years of age and continuing up until 18.
The programme works in areas of social deprivation, where the needs of children, families and the community are greater. Currently we cover six areas of Norwich, with one of these outside of the city boundary in South Norfolk.
We are inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan music programme that has over 30 years’ experience of how a music programme can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children. Our approach draws of their experience as well as a whole range of other ideas and approaches, including conventional music education, community music practice, Dalcroze, Suzuki, and others. We have sought to develop something that is appropriate and effective for the communities we work with.
Although our most obvious triumphs may be musical, we are a social action programme supporting children to succeed across all areas of their lives.
The programme operates at two levels
This currently operates through five schools, covering six areas of the city of Norwich, all identified as areas of deprivation. These schools are:
Catton Grove Primary School
Lakenham Primary School
Queens Hill Primary School
Wensum Junior School
West Earlham Junior School & West Norwich Nucleo
All children take part in their school orchestra, so there are orchestras at each of our school sites. These orchestras then feed the cross programme, primary age orchestras, the Sarah Glover and Thomas Brown Orchestras.
Older children take part in the Teen Sistema, which is based at Martineau Memorial Hall, Colegate, Norwich. The main part of this provision is 'Sistema Saturdays', which runs from 10am to 1pm every Saturday in term time. There is also a Strings session after school on a Monday, but we are looking to add more sessions during the week. These children are part of the Colegate Nucleo Orchestra.
Children can take part in the Teen Sistema from Year 6 of primary school, with our twice termly Orchestra Days also supporting the pathway to this provision.
The Sistema in Norwich Steering Group is a group of experts and supporters who offer advice to help take the programme forward.