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Sistema in Norwich is an entirely independent programme, run by NORCA & Sistema in Norwich, a charity registered in England.  It is one of a number of such programmes around the world, including Sistema Scotland, El Sistema Sweden and Sistema New Brunswick.

Though we have no formal link, our work is inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan music programme that has over 40 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. Members of the team have visited Venezuela to see the El Sistema in action, and there is a network of programmes, leaders and tutors through which best practice and experience of running such programmes is shared.


However, our approach also draws on a whole range of ideas and approaches, including conventional music education, community music practice, Dalcroze, Suzuki, and others, as part of developing an effective approach that meets the needs of the communities we work with. We constantly work to improve our delivery and pedagogy, so that the children participating get the best we can offer.


Sistema 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. Although our most obvious triumphs may be musical, we are a social action through music programme.


We achieve this through engaging children in learning to play a musical instrument and being part of an orchestra, starting at 7 years of age and continuing up until 18 (and beyond). 


The programme focuses on areas of social deprivation in the city of Norwich, where the needs of children, families and the community are greater.  Over the last 10 years we have covered six areas of the city, with provision largely based in primary schools, alongside teenage provision at a central venue.

Part of our mission is to give young people who would not otherwise have access to learning to play a musical instrument, the opportunity to do so. This can be for a whole host of reasons, but it is often financial.

There is strong evidence to support the idea that there are beneficial non-musical side effects to taking part in music, with a range of existing research to support this and a number of ongoing studies.

The programme has been continuing online during the pandemic and whilst we set up the new nucleo.


Our new nucleo will open in April 2022, bringing together all our previous delivery in one central venue. We have taken this decision because we believe it will create a more cohesive, efficient, effective and inclusive programme.  It builds on our experience and learning with the Lakenham Nucleo pilot and the Teen Sistema at Colegate.

All previous participants will be eligible to continue, with the programme building on both our long-term partnerships with particular schools, and new school and organisation partnerships.  In this ways we will ensure that we continue to reach the most under-served communities, and prioritise the participation of children and young people from those communities.  It will, however, also mean we can extend our reach to communities across the city to become a whole city programme.

If you are interested in your child being part of the Sistema programme, please click here and complete the form. (Please be aware that recruitment takes place at certain points in the year, so we will get in touch regarding available places and when the next intake will be).


Our ambition is to support and enable young people with the least opportunity (but particularly those identified as vulnerable or at risk), to participate in the programme. We take our responsibility very seriously and our Child Protection Policy outlines our procedures and processes in relation to the responsibility that our aims bestow upon us. Our priority is the safety and welfare of the child/young person. Our Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy is available on our policies page (here), but should you require more information, please contact the HR team on 01603 760529 or by email admin@norcasistema.org.uk.


If you have an instrument at home that is no longer being played and you're looking for a good home for it, Sistema Norwich is always willing to accept donations into our instrument store. The instruments we receive are a huge part of improving access for more children to our programme, so you can be confident that your donation will be making a difference to the lives of Norwich children. Click here to contact us about donating an instrument.


Sistema in Norwich would not be possible without the support of many individual donors and the following funders and supporters:

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Chivers Trust, Norwich French Church Charity