Wynton MarsalisMusician, educator, composer, Managing and Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center
“Maestro Abreu has created a way of teaching and playing music that realizes the highest aspirations of our greatest composers and performers. Unlike many “social arts programs” that patronize students and families with very low level activities to keep kids “off the streets”, El Sistema creates an extended family that functions in the most natural and practical way to inspire them to reach for the heavens. This book tells that compelling story and encourages us all to broaden our concept of the achievable.”
Daniel H. Pinkauthor of Drive and A Whole New Mind
"Playing For Their Lives is the inspiring story of how a social justice movement founded on music education is changing lives in the poorest communities of the world. Anyone looking for evidence of the transformative power of the arts should read this important book."
"Playing for Their Lives affirms the power of music to change lives and communities. This is a book every orchestra lover must read, but also every community organizer, school board member, and citizen artist who is ready to change the world."
Quincy JonesMusic producer, Arranger, Humanitarian
"Playing For Their Lives brings us the news that not only is it possible to change the lives of children through music -- it's already happening on a worldwide scale. El Sistema shows firsthand that in some of our planet's most destitute places, children are finding hope and possibility through music. This book is an important call to action, for people everywhere who care about using music to remake our kids' future."
Congressman Elijah E. CummingsMaryland, 7th Congressional District
"Playing for Their Lives tells the story of remarkable accomplishments by children who, although challenged by poverty and social stress, learn how to succeed in life through intensive musical engagement. Our Congressional District in Baltimore is fortunate to be the home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids, the largest such musical ensemble program in the United States – and I am hopeful that this inspiring book will encourage more communities to launch programs like OrchKids so that all of our children can have this beautiful opportunity."
Jesse Rosen President and CEO of League of American Orchestras
"Tunstall and Booth provide a beautifully textured exploration of the intersection of child development, social justice and the orchestral experience. Their book should eliminate any doubt about the global relevance of the orchestral canon and its transformative powers."
Dr. José Antonio AbreuFounder of El Sistema
"Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth are writers I admire and respect. I am very enthusiastic that they share the story of the international growth of El Sistema in such an accurate and engaging way for readers across the world who care about helping children in need."
Eric Jensen, PhDauthor of Teaching with the Brain in Mind
"This is an amazing story that has meaning for all us in education. Plus, there’s a blueprint for how your own school can duplicate the remarkable success of El System. You’ll love the book!"
Jamie BernsteinWriter, Filmmaker
"Tricia Tunstall and Eric Booth have lucidly and thrillingly brought to life the achievements of Venezuela's El Sistema approach as it is adopted around the world. Not only do the authors show us the children on multiple continents gaining the strength and confidence to rise above the constrictions of their environments; they share the equally exciting news about the worldwide emergence of a new kind of musician: the "citizen artists" who teach at the Sistema sites, day by day forging a golden link between making music and making our world a better place. Tunstall and Booth's global report would have surely gladdened the heart of my father, Leonard Bernstein -- the original Citizen Artist."
Deborah BordaPresident and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
"Having had the privilege of seeing El Sistema at work in Venezuela and experiencing its influence here at home through YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), I can attest to the power of its philosophy that an inclusive, high-quality orchestral education can effect profound social change. El Sistema and the movement it has inspired are transforming the lives of young people worldwide. Playing for Their Lives is an insightful introduction to El Sistema, helping to clarify its identity, outline its key elements, and inspire the advocacy necessary to ensure its future."
Leon BotsteinPresident of Bard College, Principal Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra
"This book is an eloquent and indispensable guide to how a world famous Venezuelan program of music education designed to promote social change works and can be adapted to differing local contexts. The book is an inspiration about the power musical culture and practice possess in the task of improving the human condition."