YouthPower365's First Notes


Students from Avon Elementary School perform at the First Notes spring concert at the Vilar Performing Arts Center; April 2014. 

Number of participants: 150 students
 8-13 years (3rd-8th grade)
Locations: Avon, Edwards, June Creek and Gyspum Elementary Schools; Berry Creek and Gypsum Creek Middle Schools
Contact: Peter Barclay at or (970) 748-5994

First Notes,First Notes, a project of VVF’s YouthPower365, is a music education program inspired by Venezuela’s network of youth orchestras known as El Sistema. First Notes began in the Vail Valley in 2009, serving second graders at Avon Elementary School. 

The 2014-2015 school year brings many exciting program changes.  First Notes now serves sixty students at Avon Elementary School, the program’s flagship site.  In addition, there are new pilot First Notes programs at June Creek Elementary School, Edwards Elementary School, and Berry Creek Middle School.  The program at Berry Creek Middle School marks the first time in the history of Eagle County that there is string instrumental instruction beyond the elementary level.  First Notes meets several days a week as part of YouthPower365's PwrHrs after-school programming. First Notes provides a safe and nurturing environment to build self-esteem and positive social behavior by using music as a vehicle for social change.

El Sistema, (“The System”) is a bold and ambitious systematic approach to the creation of community values through orchestral playing. Children learn these values through caring for a musical instrument, engaging in rigorous daily practice, performing regularly on stage, and learning to be a responsible member of a focused community. Learning to value teamwork, respect, and accountability empowers children, helping them to learn that they can accomplish anything. Founded in Venezuela in 1975, El Sistema has transformed the lives of millions of children and is now being developed in dozens of countries around the world. The El Sistema USA movement began in the early 2000s, and First Notes was one of the first El Sistema-inspired programs formed in the United States.