If you want to know more about Play On, Philly!, the intensive after-school music program that has just landed another $1 million in funding, take a look at this video. Also, groove to Play On, Philly! students playing Brahms with Simon Rattle here.
POP! is modeled after Venezuela's El Sistema network, and programs like it across the U.S. are coming on line. Some U.S. music educators have argued that almost any music program that is getting the funding and attention now being given to El Sistema-like groups would succeed - especially one that gives children two or three hours of music instruction five days a week.
In a way, El Sistema has a chance to step in to do the kind of music training that was once routine in many public schools. It's only this kind of concentration of time that allows for instrumental lessons, ear training, theory and ensembles. A nice silver lining to the El Sistema structure is that it gives many children a much-needed productive atmosphere after school, a place to go that's a lot safer than an empty house or just hanging out.
El Sistema may or may not hold a magical formula. Buy my feeling is, if this is working, and funders are excited to be a part of it, let the music play on.