Getting schooled at People’s

Dear Friend of The People’s Music School,

We are a school, a community, a place where everyone is learning together.  Including me.  I got schooled last spring – here’s what happened:

I had just finished talking to some of our winds and brass students in our Greater South Side program, in what I thought was a fairly inspirational chat.  At least an 8 out of 10 on the inspiration scale.  How far they had come, how hard they worked, to achieve milestoneslike learning Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and performing for Yo-Ya Ma.  We spoke of all the special guest artists that visited People’s over the year.  I  then said, “…and if you keep working hard, even more people will believe in us and we will have more opportunities with other important people…”
I saw the delight in the children’s eyes, and a fresh sense of motivation.  I felt great.

One of the students’ mothers then came up to me.  “Ms. Jennifer, I just wanted to thank you for everything The People’s Music School is doing.  This program means so much to my son, and the teachers are wonderful.”  (I nod, and my glow shines on).

She continued, “but can I say something?  I know you didn’t mean your comment in a bad way, but I tell my kids that they are important, that no one is more important than anyone else.”

Suddenly, I turned embarrassed and sorry for my speech.  And so wholly grateful for the feedback – she was absolutely right, and I told her so.  Every child is important.  Every child has a voice.  Every child should be empowered.

In our community, many things seem to happen TO our students and families. Violence on the streets, including gunfire in front of our buildings. Neglect and abuse at home.  Policies that impact their futures as dreamers. Yet The People’s Music School is a place where we teach our children to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Where despite whatever is happening around you, your family, your school, your neighborhood, your country, YOU HAVE A VOICE.

And so, a reveal that we are incredibly excited about: This  year’s theme will be “FINDING YOUR VOICE” – you will see this highlighted in stories we celebrate, the music choices our students perform, the compositions our students create, the events our teaching artists produce, the artistic partnerships we bring to you, and more.  As our school year kicks off, please support us in your thoughts, prayers, and actions.  Won’t you join us in finding and raising your voice as well?

All our best to you and yours,

Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa

President and Artistic Director

The People’s Music School


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