1) Holistic Child-ES Programs address the child holistically. ES programs are NOT just about developing a musician, but rather about developing a global citizen and individual. To do this, it is essential to know the child's background, foster healthy relationships with the child's family, and be not just a music teacher for this child, but a role model, friend, and advocate.
2) Social Change-I do not want to claim band/choir/orchestra programs do not manifest social change, but I think it is fair to say, this is not in the mission statement or objective of a typical music education program. This is at the forefront of every ES program
3) Frequency-I use this word rather than intensity because how does one measure intensity objectively? But, very few (if any) school music programs meet 4-6 times a week for at least a couple hours each time. To have a conservatory regimen starting at such a young age is an evident distinction.
4) Community support-The nucleo isn't just for the child; it's for the parents and the community. Families are encouraged to participate, not just attend their kids' concerts. Nucleos (at least successful ones) must address a specific community need and be relevant to and supportive of the community. Yes, this implies LISTENING to the community. This is especially fortified when community stakeholders are involved, a rare occurrence of in-school music programs.
5) Student-centered. The learning is focused on the child's best interests and the best way a child can learn is from his/her peers. As a result the Montessori peer-teaching is an important element of the Sistema way (notice I did not say pedagogy)
The tenet that I'm leaving off that is often mentioned is accessibility because so many in-school programs these days are already accessible to all children. But I thought it was important enough to note.