A Christmas Present – Free El Sistema Logic Model


Last year I suggested a Christmas present from the world to el Sistema. This year I’m pleased to offer a modest gift of my own: a logic model in PDF format for el Sistema programs worldwide.

If you’re not familiar with logic models, at first glance they can appear ironically illogical, particularly the combination of “outputs” and “outcomes.” Logic models always follow a very specific pre-determined format. Simply put, “outputs” are actions generated by the “inputs,” with “outcomes” the results that ensue. Good logic models (I forbear to suggest mine qualifies as such) make clear the thought and intention – the logic – behind an activity, and are requested more and more often by granting agencies as part of an application. A useful resource on these may be found here.

I’ve introduced a minor refinement of the format in this example. Normally a logic model reads left-to-right only, but in this version there’s a vertical element as well, with higher placement indicating a respectively higher degree of prioritization. This isn’t standard practice.

I sincerely hope this document helps you all.

Important Disclaimers!

Click here for the Logic Model

1. This is a generalized logic model that may or may not be applicable to a program; in particular, both Inputs and Outputs can differ significantly based on how a program is structured or operated. The model is provided on an “as is” basis and I make no representation as to its accuracy, completeness, or appropriateness for submission to any individual, agency or organization. If you would like a model customized to a specific program, please feel free to amend this version, subject to the license or contact me for assistance.

2. This model is by no means comprehensive or finalized – I welcome comments, or suggested substitutions or subtractions using the form below. Please note I didn’t say “additions” – as Antoine de Sainte-Exupery said, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Team diagrams can become Frankenstein-like very quickly, both visually and intelligibly. With your help we can make this simpler. And if you don’t like the model, remember, you get what you paid for.

3. Please review the Creative Commons License associated with the file. In short, you are not allowed to sell this, even if you modify it, and the original author (me) must always be credited appropriately.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.




5 thoughts on “A Christmas Present – Free El Sistema Logic Model

  1. Hi Jonathon – Season’s Greetings etc!

    Nice one. I looked through it and thought you’d covered all the bases clearly and simply… except perhaps for one – in emphasis perhaps. In my version here in Australia we use “collaboration” as a major aspect of the roll-out of the programs here.

    Collaboration with – community, service organisations, schools, peak music bodies (orchestras ensembles etc.), tertiary music institutions, government departments and sponsor organisations. Note that here it isn’t “local” community – but a much wider one.

    The model we are developing here in Australia relies on the “spreading of the love” by generating the value, momentum and creative forces that exist within a group of organisations, where, individually, they have no ability to deliver anything more than a basic version of El Sistema.

    I note that many fledgling music programs here or anywhere for that matter – El Sistema “based” or not, suffer from a lack of momentum and “weight” without a collaborative model approach. I suspect they would be a lot better off if they banded together with other organisations too, as we have done, and are doing.

    But thanks VERY much for doing this – the best clear and concise model I have seen yet.

    Hope to catch up properly in LA –

    All the best,

    Chris Nicholls
    Sistema Australia

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for writing – I agree entirely with your point about the need for collaboration: I simply used a different word, that of “partners.” They could definitely qualify as Inputs as well, although I have them only in the Output column. As I said, those two fields in particular are very program-specific.

    I also agree with your entirely on the consequences of lack of collaboration or partnership. This is the primary hurdle in the US, as discussions of both practice and philosophy within and beyond the Sistema circle are dominated by territoriality and politics. I think Maestro Abreu’s greatest advantage was being able to create the network in a vacuum.



  3. Hi Jonathan,

    The reason Maestro Abreu was able to construct El Sistema and develop it completely himself – ie. in a vacuum, was because what he was doing, no one else could do. He saw far beyond the immense difficulties of setting up such a program. He took control of the process and became the authority on it in Venezuela. His vision saw him through thick and thin – and his wonderful dream became reality for Venezuela and Venezuelan children.

    If any country intends to develop a similar movement in their own country, it needs for there to be a a leader to take control of the movement, and drive it. Someone will need to stand up and be counted. It gets back to my comment about collaboration. You cannot get a large scale development if there is no hierarchy of organisation. As a larger organisation it can vie for proper funding on a national scale and with the combined efforts of other national organisations – in music peak bodies, social services organisations, the Federal Government, State Governments etc etc. Not to mention a few national sponsors.

    Unless we each (in each country) do this, we will always have a number of small programs who are unable to grow beyond a small threshold of children in their program. El Sistema programs need considerable funding every year for any reasonable program. It is unreasonable to expect that a small program in a lesser city or town supported by a handful of enthusiastic musicians can be sustained and grow. The only way for these smaller programs to be sustainable is if they are a part of a bigger thing – ie. members of a wider “co-operative” El Sistema community.

    It is not for nothing that the United Nations has made this year 2012, “The International Year of Co-operatives” – http://www.2012.coop/


    “Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

    Hopefully many others are reading this blog and the comments you have made, and will take note of the ‘framework’ you have created which is the first I have seen anywhere of an utterly logical, sensible, extensible and pragmatic approach to the development of a standard for establishment of an El Sistema program – outside of Venezuela that is.

    All the best – and a Happy New Year!


  4. Jonathan, your Logic Model is great. Keep up the good work. One aspect to consider is student recruitment procedure and especially, selection criteria.

    There’s increasing interest within British Columbia about Sistema inspired programs. A central resource web-based centre would be a great resource for those interested in starting and/or maintaining programs.

    Peter Van Ooyen
    St James Music Academy

  5. Peter, many thanks for your comments. I’m not sure I understood what you meant by “selection criteria” in terms of student recruitment – are you referring to qualification via socio-economic markers?

    I’m very glad to hear that BC is picking up steam. I had a great conversation with Kathryn a few weeks ago and she told me in detail about the excellent work done by the SJMA, I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to make a trip out there some time this year to see the program.

    As for your suggestion of a central resources, I’m trying to turn this site into something like that. Laying it all out in a way that makes sense from a navigational perspective is something of a challenge though, and I’m looking at new hosting and template options. Suggestions would be welcome.

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