Dear friends, supporters, and investors, Thanks to you, 2014 is finishing with incredible momentum for The People’s Music School! You are making this possible! (Click below for a video message of appreciation from our students). While 2014 was a year of difficult transition, we couldn’t be prouder of how we have risen to the challenges and set the school on solid footing for sustainable growth. You can read more about our progress in my upcoming blog post on my first 100 days. In short, we rallied around 5 meaty goals… and knocked them all out of the park. When I lead tours of our operations, I often hear Rita’s words in my head: “This is The People’s Music School. You are a Person. This is your school – welcome.” This spirit of community, of generosity, of service, infiltrates everything we do – how we teach, how we lead, how we envision the future. With your ongoing support, we will continue to carve out a unique path delivering real access to the benefits of music. We will do so with increasing efficiency and effectiveness. We will do so through innovation and creativity. Our goals include, but go well beyond, high school graduation rates and college admission – we aim to equip our students with the survival toolkit to handle challenges through their lifetimes with grit and grace. “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife” ​ – Khalil Gibran​ We have much to look forward to in 2015 – new challenges, new solutions, new ways of working. And as we gear up for the new year, we wish you equal amounts of energy, joy, and peace in 2015! ​Happy new year, Jennifer Kim Matsuzawa​

Jessica Esteves, 15 years old, has been studying at The People’s Music School Uptown Academy since she was in 2nd grade. Now a sophomore in high school at Northside College Prep, she is one of our brightest students. She studies both the violin and harp, and plays in our Uptown Academy ensembles as well as her school’s orchestra. Jessica shared with us a bit about her experience at TPMS: 

What made you decide to study the violin? the harp? 
I started playing the violin when I was I was 6 years old. My elementary school, Walt Disney Magnet School, had a violin program. We were taught with the Suzuki violin method, starting with “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When the program ended, my older brother and I took private lessons in our home with one of the teachers. The lessons continued until I was in 2nd grade when we could no longer afford it and I also lost the passion. We first learned of the People’s Music School from a family friend whose kids already attended. We were able to get into People’s Music School and the decision to choose an instrument arose. I was torn between continuing with the violin or starting all over with the guitar. I wanted to play the guitar because all of my friends were playing it. I came to the decision to continue the violin because i considered it a waste to throw all I learned previously away. 

I’ve been playing the harp for almost 2 years now. When harp lessons started at the People’s Music School, there were not many students playing for it was new. My mother learned that there were spots for a group class. I took the opportunity to join that group class, which in half a year became individual private lessons. I enjoy playing the harp because not many people play it, it is such a beautiful instrument in the way that it looks and the sound it produces. Also I have also taken lessons in piano so I am familiar with having both my hands do different things at once. From my experience in choosing these two instruments, I have learned to take the opportunities that come to you for you never know when you’ll miss out on a great experience.

In what ways has being a student at The People’s Music School changed or impacted your life? 
Being a student at The People’s Music School has impacted my life by giving me opportunities not many are fortunate with. The People’s Music reignited my passion for music and has helped me realized that I want what I have learned here to continue with me for the rest of my life. It has also given me to confidence to express myself in front of other people.

How has studying music helped you in ways that are not related to music (in school, at home, with friends, in other extracurricular activities)? Studying music has helped me in managing my time. Because I go to music school 3 times a week, I needed to find a way to finish all my homework, while still having time to practice my respective instruments. I also have become more attentive to detail.

What aspect of your music studies are the most challenging? the most rewarding? 
I do not find learning a piece at all that difficult, however, it does take focus and time to learn the piece fully. The most challenging is to convey the piece with the emotions and style intended by the composer. I believe over the years I have developed my musicality but it definitely needs more improving and time will allow that. The most rewarding aspect is performing the piece I have been working on. Whether it is a jury performance or the Performathon, it is very rewarding to play in front of an audience and have them applaud me.

Have you always been comfortable performing in front of people? Has being in our program changed that for you at all? 
When I was younger, I used to be very shy. I was in a children’s choir and before the performance, I backed out last minute because I was so scared to be in front of other people. It has improved over the years. When I joined the program, I gained more confidence. Of course, performing in front of an audience makes me nervous sometimes, especially during juries, where I am being evaluated. Only recently have I been perfectly confident in front of an audience. The performance I am most proud of was Performathon 2014 where I played the first movement of the Accolay Concerto in A Minor. The amount of performances I have been in due to this program has allowed me to be comfortable with people because if I am not comfortable, the emotion expressed from the music I play will never be properly exchanged between the audience and I.

Do you plan to go to college after high school? What do you want to study? 
I do plan to go to college after high school. Currently, I want to study in the medical field, hopefully become a doctor. I also want to continue music but I am still working out on a  plan on how I will do so.

After college, what is your dream job? 
My dream job is to be a doctor. I like to take care of people and make a difference. How much more of a difference can I make in a person’s life than improving their health to allow them to accomplish more?

Your brother attends the UA as well – how do you think the program has changed or impacted his life? 
I think the program has taught him to prioritize his time. Also I believe he has become a better musician. He started with piano when he was younger and it seemed like an obligation to him. I truly think he enjoys the playing the flute since he chose that instrument.

Do you believe more kids should have the opportunity to study music? Why? 
I do believe that more kids should have the opportunity to study music because music allows them to access their creative side. I believe in this age, filled with technology, kids are becoming dormant, both physically and mentally. Studying music allows them to be creative as they are given the freedom to express themselves, interpret pieces the way they see fit, and confidence. 

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