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Photo Credit: © Sistema Toronto

High Quality Music Education for Every Child


El Sistema USA® works to ensure every child has access to high-quality music education that celebrates their voice and potential by supporting a national network of organizations & educators.


El Sistema USA is committed to equity and excellence in music education. We envision a world in which every child—regardless of income, geography, or identity—has access to a high-quality music education program that builds community, opportunity, and personal growth.

What We Do

We support a network of music education programs throughout the country with staff development and training, research and data, student leadership programs, and advocacy for the field.

About El Sistema USA

El Sistema USA (ESUSA)  strengthens the field of music education by providing leadership and resources to organizations and educators. We serve 140 member programs, 6,000 teaching artists, and 25,000 students. Our programming supports members and the wider field through staff professional development, data and advocacy, and student learning and leadership. 

We are a central resource for music teaching artists, organizations, researchers, educators, policymakers and funders to help students from all backgrounds thrive in music education.

Our Inspiration and Model: El Sistema

Our work draws inspiration from the music education model of El Sistema, founded in Venezuela by José Antonio Abreu and championed by conductor Gustavo Dudamel. It uses music instruction in ensembles to enhance the lives of young people in under-resourced communities. El Sistema USA believes that learning music can set students on a path of self-discovery and improve life skills such as patience, persistence, and confidence. 

The El Sistema model emphasizes free or low-cost tuition; frequent instruction (5-10+ hours per week); ensemble-based learning; and student participation over the years. We want to advance high-quality music education, ensuring every student in every school can unleash their potential for creativity and leadership in a supportive environment. 

Our programs prepare expressive, resilient individuals who contribute to their communities. Beyond musical proficiency, we emphasize the personal growth and social connections that enrich students as artists and citizens.

Free or Low-Cost Tuition

Frequent Instruction

(5-10+ hours per week)

Ensemble-Based Learning

Participation Over the Years

Community Focus

Excellence in Instruction and Playing

Our Core Values


We believe all kids have the right to reach their full potential.


We are committed to helping organizations deliver on this promise.


We hold ourselves, our member organizations, and our educational values to the highest standards.


We measure the impact of our work and consistently drive to improve.


We are committed to sustaining this work, by strengthening our movement and our member organizations.


We believe in strengthening the spirit in all that we do.


We encourage collaboration and community building at all levels of our organization.

If you support our Mission, Vision, and Core Values, please consider becoming a Member of El Sistema USA® today!

What Our Members Are Saying

“I believe [Youth Leadership] is important for students to connect and collaborate with like-minded students as a constant reminder that we are not alone in our struggles and they will hopefully have the opportunity to experience joy and try new things.”

ESUSA 2023 High School Youth Ambassador

“El Sistema USA has provided vital assistance to me as a Teaching Artist and Program Director at a lean-and-mean El Sistema Inspired Program in the greater Washington, DC area. At Regional Gatherings, National Symposiums, and virtual forums, I glean countless practical tools and inspirational takeaways that refresh my vision for my program’s path forward, and I meet the loveliest like-minded music educators, administrators, and supporters of the mission of social change through music education. Then I share these tools and visions with the Teaching Artists on my team.”

Cindy Joy Gossman, ASO Sympatico

“As a small organization, our membership in ESUSA has been an invaluable resource. The data collection help that ESUSA has spearheaded has been a useful tool that was easy to administer with a small group of volunteers. It has provided deep insight into how our students feel about their developing musical skills, why they continue their studies with us, and how we can improve our program to meet their needs and interests.

Liz Grimshaw, Founder and Executive Director, Crescendo Phoenixville
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