El Sistema: how Venezuela’s renowned music education program transformed a marginalized Scottish neighborhood

  • David Sillito
  • Arts Correspondent, BBC News

image source, Getty Images

Raploch, 2012. That year, this district of the city of Stirling, in Scotland, hosted an unusual concert in which children from the area participated, along with the famous “Simón Bolívar” Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. It was part of an experiment to see the impact that immersive music education could have in a community with high levels of social exclusion. Ten years later, what has become of those children?

But before seeing what the results of the test were, it is important to explain that Raploch does not have a good reputation. In English dictionaries the name of the area also appears as a pejorative adjective to describe people “ordinary, plain, undistinguished; coarse, coarse”.

The neighborhood, full of gray houses built by successive British governments for low-income people, is located at the foot of one of the main tourist attractions in Scotland: Stirling Castle. Nevertheless, unemployment, poverty and crime they have stigmatized him.

However, something has changed in these years.