Part 1: Community Music Therapy and El Sistema: Addressing the Empowerment Needs of Individuals and Communities Facing Socioeconomic Marginalization

Virginia Eulacio Cierniak

Abstract


Music is an accessible tool for positive change within people and societies, even in places facing socioeconomic marginalization due to poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to resources. Social capital has to do with the resources and networks available within society, which may help confront issues faced by individuals and communities. Community Music Therapy (CoMT) and the music education movement known as El Sistema both utilize music—understood as social capital—to address social justice. The purpose of this study was to comparatively examine the ways in which CoMT and El Sistema programs may address the empowerment needs of individuals and communities facing socioeconomic marginalization and suggest how these two approaches may be able to work synergistically to achieve their shared goals. Its findings reveal many parallels and divergence between El Sistema and CoMT in terms of the role of the music, program structure, social justice goals, outcomes, music education practice, areas of intersection, existing scholarly research, and criticisms each has received.


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