When I play I feel like I grow wings
– Student in Sulamot
SULAMOT– Music for Social Change – is an innovative and inspirational music education program for at-risk children. Sulamot focuses primarily on children with the least resources and greatest needs in peripheral areas and underprivileged communities. The program reaches children from many different backgrounds including immigrants from numerous countries, reflecting the diversity found in Israel. Sulamot was created as a joint program with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Tel Aviv University in October 2010.
Sulamot promotes music as a fundamental tool for the education of new generations and as a mean of social development. The program was inspired by “El Sistema”, the international award-winning project in Venezuela, funded by the government, wherein hundreds of thousands of children, mainly from poor socio-economic backgrounds, are taught by music teachers throughout the country.
Music is a language. It really provides a bridge among various cultures, and the children receive an instrument that can help them be successful anywhere in the world and get ahead.
- Orit Sharabi, Principal at a participating school
Sulamot makes a three-year commitment to students, creating strong personal connections as well as providing consistency in the lives of children who might otherwise not have any. By establishing youth orchestras in underprivileged areas, where children have very little social or educational enrichment frameworks for after-school hours, Sulamot strives to help children and young people achieve and acquire values that favor their growth and have a positive impact on their lives in society.
Over the course of the program children are given intensive musical instruction, enabling them to gather and play in an orchestra within three months of picking up an instrument. Sulamot provides students with many opportunities and experiences, including:
• Musical instruments
• Weekly individual lessons and orchestra rehearsals
• Bi-annual visits to IPO concerts at the Bronfman Auditorium
• Performing opportunities in concerts for the community
• Practice supervision system operated by IDF soldiers from the unit of outstanding musicians
• Supervision by IPO musicians
• Musical education supervision by the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Tel Aviv University
• Psychological guidance by the School of Social Work at the Tel Aviv University
Reaching the Blind and Visually Impaired
My daughter cannot play with her siblings, she cannot watch TV. But since she began playing the piano she has something she loves to do!
- Mother of a handicapped student who is blind and confined to a wheelchair
Through this program, 60 blind and visually impaired children across Israel have been taught to play musical instruments, each one succeeding beyond all expectations. These students have exceptional ears and are accustomed to overcoming challenges on a daily basis, making playing music both instinctive and pleasurable.
Initiated with humanitarian and moral objectives in mind, the program has since become so much more. All too often these children were left with no recreational activities due to their disability. Through Sulamot, an entirely new world has been opened -they spend hours learning and practicing. This hard work pays off during performances for amazed and inspired audiences.
In all my life, I never would have gotten to do something like play the harp
There are approximately 100 children who began playing in the first year of Sulamot that demonstrate bot h talent and perseverance. For these students, ensembles have been created to showcase their progress and dedication.
There is the Harp Ensemble, in which ten children participate and of these, five are blind. It is the first time such a group has existed in Israel and a special repertoire has been prepared for it.
Additionally, there is the ensemble for outstanding wind players, which includes 50 musicians from across the country. These students meet for intense and concentrated rehearsal days throughout the year. The group performs throughout Israel, serving as an incentive for members of the program who regard these fellow students with admiration.
All of a sudden, I’m sitting in the orchestra at the concert hall of the Israel Philharmonic. And on the podium is Maestro Zubin Mehta.
In December of 2013, 600 Sulamot children met with Maestro Zubin Mehta at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium. The young musicians were all very excited and practiced enthusiastically in anticipation of meeting Maestro Mehta. The string orchestras played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the 9th symphony, and the wind orchestras played HaTikva. In addition, four young soloists were chosen to play for the Maestro. Watch the video below to hear the children playing for and with Maestro Mehta.
The children leave the program knowing far more than how to play an instrument – they are instilled with a sense of leadership, teamwork, discipline and accomplishment.
Currently, Sulamot reaches 750 children nationwide and is active in 13 locations throughout Israel, including the cities of Tel Aviv, Rehovot, Yavne, Beersheba, Afula, Nazareth, Haifa, Migdal HaEmek and Pardes Hana. While initially focused on children in peripheral areas and in underprivileged communities, the ultimate goal of the program is to offer basic musical training to each and every youngster in Israel, promoting social change through the collective practice of music.