KidZNotes is an El-Sistema-inspired program that transforms the lives of underserved children through classical, orchestral music training beginning in early childhood to combat poverty, strengthen inner-city education, and foster positive decisionmaking to unlock the world.
I’m Katie Wyatt and I am part of a movement of musicians called El Sistema, “the system.” I first experienced El Sistema five years ago as a violist in a cultural exchange orchestra. I was 25 and playing with some of the best orchestras in the country. When I arrived in Venezuela and had to audition again for placement, I had no problem. The audition went great, and I went to the board the next day to see where I had landed, confident I would be principal. I was shocked to see that I had been beaten by a 16-year-old girl, Jhoanna. After we played, it was obvious she was better than me. In the coming weeks, I discovered what was Jhoanna’s edge: She was playing for her life. Jhoanna had grown up in El Sistema, the orchestra system for children and families from the slums of Caracas. Jhoanna literally had no where else to turn when her brother was shot, she lost her father to drugs, and her only peace was music. El Sistema is the empowerment of a 16-year-old girl with nothing, achieving beyond what a 25-year-old with everything had not yet accomplished. Music had leveled the playing field. KidZNotes is in its third year of empowering 200 kids in Durham to change their futures. With your help, we’ll grow to serve thousands more in Durham and Raleigh. Thank you for empowering our kids through music!