KSA began the String Orchestra in January 2011 to fulfill the promise that, as part of the specialism of the school, every student would learn to play a musical instrument. We wanted to provide a rigorous, meaningful and enriching musical education for our students, and the privileged opportunity for them to be part of a performing orchestra.


Perhaps the most well-known example of an all-inclusive orchestral program is El Sistema in Venezuela. This is a state-funded music education program, which reaches 250,000 children, 90% of whom are from poor socio-economic backgrounds.  The foundation provides the instruments and musical training and watches over its 125 youth orchestras. One of these orchestras, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, himself a product of El Sistema, is internationally renowned with sell-out concerts at the Proms every year.

Many other organizations in England have taken elements of the El Sistema model and introduced their own instrumental schemes. In Harmony is currently operating programs in Lambeth, Norwich and Liverpool; London Music Masters runs programs in primary schools in London; and the London Chamber Orchestra, provides musical opportunities through Music Junction to children from a range of schools across the country.

There are many ways of providing instrument learning opportunities for students, but perhaps the most inspirational program of all has been the work of the KIPP String and Rhythm Orchestra in the Bronx, New York. A visit to KIPP at the start of the academic year 2010-2011 to meet its founder Charlie Randall provided the inspiration that led to the birth of the KSA String Orchestra.