But that moment taught me so much. 1) That sometimes when a student can't do something, challenging them more will result in success 2) Taking away a sense (vision) made them rely solely on their ears and we should execute exercises in ear training with no sight more often! and 3) not setting limits on a child's potential despite their current ability/experience (or lack there of). The kids ended up practicing 5.5 hours and it was the adults who were insisting the kids needed a break. Something that will stick with me is when I told Victor he had 5 minutes til lunch (After rehearsing for 3 hrs). He replied, "Ya?" meaning already? He couldn't believe we were having lunch after ONLY three hours of practice! Again reiterating the arduous work ethic that is so apparent in Venezuela.
And now an aside, sorry if it's tangential. Originally, some of the "El Sistema tenets" occurred because of lack of resources and yet we who have a replete amount of those resources are striving to do things in the El Sistema way because of the success that brought. Example: peer teaching. We've all seen the benefits peers teaching one another has, it's more efficient and usually more effective, not to mention developing teaching experience from a young age (and fiscally cost-effective!). But in Venezuela the reason this is done is because of the dearth of teachers. They still have conservatories where traditional studying occurs, but with 286 nucleos and 400,000 students and 5,000 teachers, that's a student:teacher ratio of 80:1. El Sistema teaches in an ensemble setting instead of a private lesson setting because they don't have said teachers, practice rooms, and other resources needed. One nucleo is a mango tree, another on top of the city dump. They're not necessarily in schools or community centers as they are here in the US. Yet we have seen the benefits teaching in a social environment has! In fact, it is one of the successful factors Dr. Shirley Brice Heath discovered when she stated characteristics of effective afterschool programs.
So how do we balance our resourcefulness with striving to be El Sistema? This is a question to ponder and I invite feedback!