During late September and early October Mary undertook a study tour in Europe where she visited several government officials and community based organisations.
As part of the tour Mary held constructive discussions with officials of the Big Noise music
program in Stirling, Scotland, which is similar to the very successful El Sistema music program.
El Sistema was established in Venezuela in 1975 and has now spread throughout the world with programs operating in England, Scotland, the United States of America and twenty other nations as of 2008.
Like the El Sistema program, the Big Noise music program involves music education for children and young people, with particular emphasis on classical music. The goal of the program is to systemise the training of music with a view to ensuring that children, and people generally, achieve their full potential.
El Sistema has also been particularly helpful for children coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds and young people who are having difficulties integrating with society, and also involves families and other community members.
The program works with children, in the particular community, from early childhood and continues through their formal education. No child is denied the opportunity of learning to play their instrument of choice through music tuition several times a week.
Big Noise has approximately 450 children and young people involved in the program in Stirling.