From the new world (and to the moon and back)

Everything we do here at People’s prepares our students for life’s greater stage.  Problem-solving, goal-setting, execution, empathy, resilience, discipline – the study of music provides a remarkable foil through which to deliver meaningful teaching moments.  But we could use your help.

Case in point: I am so proud to announce, once again, that 100% of our seniors will graduate high school, and 100% will enter college in Fall, 2017.  A remarkable achievement given that the average graduation rate hovers closer to 50% in the neighborhoods our students come from.   The acceptances rolled in from Northwestern, Valpo, Miami of Ohio, University of Chicago, Marquette, Grinnell, and many more.  But as I meet with each senior to discuss their plans, it’s all about Dvořák 9th.

Some of you may know this incredible symphony, nicknamed “From the New World”.  (Fun fact: Neil Armstrong was listening to this as he landed on the moon!)  The piece is about Dvořák experiencing America for the first time, with its wide open spaces so different than his native Bohemia.  Gorgeously poignant melody lines drawn from negro spirituals, Native American rhythms, Bohemian accents and colors woven throughout… And somehow, instead of sounding like a hodge-podge of foreign ideas, the music feels achingly familiar and universal. And still relevant, over 100 years later.

How? Because I believe this piece taps into an underlying essence in each of us – a yearning to be authentic to who you are now while exploring what you could become, to understand the worlds within you as well as outside of you.  And it paints a heart-filling picture of hope and opportunity when you stretch beyond your borders.

As we send our seniors off into their new worlds, it is with this message of their potential to be realized – how proud we are of them today, but how much more there is to grow and explore, and what an amazing piece of work their lives will become through it.  It reminds me of something Yo-Yo Ma told our students at Forefront a few months ago:  “think of your life as your voice, and live your life like it’s your art form”.

While our community continues to come #together, we are an ongoing safe space for our students physically, emotionally, mentally. And with a foundation of character-building values and life skills from People’s, they are emboldened to face the future. #Nowmorethanever, we could use your help in transforming hundreds of young people across Chicago. Volunteers, mentors, matching sponsors, will you get involved and stretch into new worlds with us?  

Join us for our incredible Performapaloozathon on Saturday, June 3rd – a day not to miss, with lots of interactive music-making with the exciting Third Coast Percussion, fresh off their Grammy win. Pop by, bring friends and family, and enjoy the very special community of The People’s Music School! I’d love to see you there!

All best,

Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa

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