Faces of El Sistema

Meet Jaden Diaz

Jaden attended El Sistema Colorado’s after-school program for the first time in spring of 2014. Soon a regular in the program, Jaden joined the Ambassadors Ensemble, El Sistema Colorado’s extracurricular chamber orchestra of students who exhibit terrific commitment and excellence in playing their instrument.

“If we won the lottery, I would give half my money to El Sistema—that’s how much I love this program.”
– Victoria Gutierrez, Jaden’s mother

ESC’s interview with parent Victoria Gutierrez:

Q: What do you think about the program?
A: El Sistema has accommodated Jaden in every way possible. Jaden is blind, so he can’t read music. He wants to learn as much as he can, and [the program] gives him the opportunity to learn a variety of instruments.

Q: Has Jaden grown since starting El Sistema?
A: He’s grown tremendously in music; El Sistema has taught him so much. He wants to go
to a music school in Manhattan.

The program gives Jaden an opportunity to become what he wants to become – a professional musician. I believe if El Sistema is around as Jaden goes through school, they will help him get where he wants to be.

ESC’s interview with Jaden Diaz:

Grade : 7th
Age : 12
Instrument : Cello

Q: What do you enjoy most about playing an instrument?
A: You get to express your feelings – sort of like poetry, or any kind of art. It’s relaxing.

Q: What about the cello?
A: I’m learning the six Cello Suites by Bach; it’s just something I’m doing by myself. I feel happy but a little challenged. It’s really fun!

Q : What do you like about being in the Ambassadors?
A: We learn a lot of cool music . . . Hallelujah [Leonard Cohen], The Incredibles, and we’re going to learn the Harry Potter theme, and I really like Harry Potter.

El Sistema in the Community

Garden Place students perform at a nearby Century Link facility as part of a United Way promotion. A 5th grade ensemble from Garden Place Elementary serenaded Century Link employees during a recent event with Mile High United Way. United Way is out in the business community this fall, promoting workplace giving that supports organizations like El Sistema Colorado. One of the most effective way to encourage giving through United Way is to help employees see the impact of their contributions. El Sistema Colorado students were on hand to perform and show what they are accomplishing with community support. Thanks to all the Century Link employees who gave their applause and encouragement to our young musicians.

Public performances, like this one supporting Mile High United Way, are an important part of the El Sistema Colorado program. The opportunity to perform reinforces the hard work it takes for students to master their instruments and new repertoire. Students feel pride when they are recognized for their playing, driving confidence and building self-esteem. Performing in support of nonprofit organizations and events also reinforces the core El Sistema value of social responsibility and allows students to contribute to their community.

El Sistema Colorado 2nd and 4th grade students from Garden Place and Swansea Elementary schools also recently participated in the kick-off event for Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project. Not only were the students excited to perform, but they increased their understanding of affordable housing issues in their community.

Students perform at the recent Kick-Off event for Habitat for Humanity's Carter Work Project. Habitat is building over a dozen affordable housing units in the Globeville neighborhood.

If you are interested in having El Sistema Colorado students perform at your business or community event, please contact Program Director Jamie Wolf at jwolf@elsistemacolorado.org.

Student Profile – Ana Ramos

Ana proudly shows off her violin

For Ana, the best part of El Sistema Colorado is “that we get to play our instruments.”

Ana is a fifth grade violin student who began with El Sistema Colorado as part of our pilot program in January 2012 at Garden Place Elementary. She thrives in the after-school program, which runs 2 ½ hours each day, Monday – Thursday. When asked what she finds difficult about El Sistema, Ana acknowledges “It is tough to learn new songs without forgetting the songs you already know.”

This summer, Ana got a special surprise. Her father wanted to reward all the time and effort she puts into El Sistema and was able to purchase a used violin for her. Ana is so proud of having her own violin and of her developing skills as a musician. Ana shares that her favorite school subjects are writing and reading, and that she also likes “hanging out with my friends in El Sistema.”

While students focus on the fun of learning and playing instruments, Ana is a good example of the development of cognitive skills, such as memory and auditory acuity, which are also important outcomes of the El Sistema program.

Photo: Ana proudly shows off her violin