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Striking the right chord

October 12, 2009

Re "Music to our ears," Editorial, Oct. 8

I sincerely hope that The Times and the people of Los Angeles realize that, for 30 years, the LAUSD's Arts Education Branch has been providing high-quality instrumental/orchestral instruction to thousands of elementary-school-age students all across our great city.

In addition, the LAUSD's elementary-school-age students regularly receive standards-based instruction in vocal music, dance, theater and visual arts from highly qualified, credentialed arts teachers.

It is unfortunate that many of the LAUSD's sharpest critics appear to be unaware of the existence of such an outstanding instructional program.

In recent years, it has successfully served thousands of students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Despite these "success stories," this highly regarded program could be in danger unless our politicians, school board and superintendent work together to preserve and sustain it.

Patrick Ridolfi

Granada Hills

The writer is a traveling music teacher in the LAUSD Arts Education Branch.

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Your editorial compared the L.A. Phil's investment in the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles with Venezuela's El Sistema -- of which the Phil's new conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, is one brilliant result.

El Sistema achieved its present scale in Venezuelan society through generous government subsidies channeled through a volunteer organization. YOLA and the L.A. Phil also receive relatively little such support, as do arts and culture generally in America.

A similar program in Los Angeles County would support a handful of linked regional performance centers and about 45 individual sites -- think of them as "music beacons" -- through which to reach, teach, link and help light the way for kids.

We need enough music teachers to form an organized corps good at working with kids. We need consistent, predictable funding. We need sufficient political will in partnership with two or three civic champions to meld many existing pieces into a harmonious network. That's how we get from here to El Sistema L.A.

Paul Vandeventer

Los Angeles

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