P.A.U.S.E brings music to Chicago schools

February 16, 2009 10:10:49 AM PST
With these hard economic times, many companies have scaled back on their charitable giving; however, one Chicago-based organization and its employees have stepped up and introduced a new program that supports music education in inner-city schools.George S. May Foundation for the Arts gsmfoundation.org has launched the P.A.U.S.E. initiative, an afterschool music education program designed to give students direct access to music instruction. Recent budget cuts have limited music education, but P.A.U.S.E., which stands for Positive Action Using Self Expression, exposes youngsters to music and gives them access to instruments and music lessons..

"Pause," the lead singer of the L.A.-based hip-hop band Swamphouse and Wisconsin's Gaudete Brass Quintet performed live for more than 300 students when P.A.U.S.E. was launched during an all-school assembly at Edward Jenner Academy for the Arts. Through P.A.U.S.E., the students at Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School and their families recently had an opportunity to enjoy a concert featuring classical music and professional piano and symphony performance by the Chicago Philharmonic at Northwestern University.

"Music inspires so many of our children to reach their highest potential, however budget cuts in inner-city schools often prevent students from learning anything about music," said Israel Kushnir, chairman of the board for the George S. May Foundation for the Arts. "The P.A.U.S.E. initiative was created to supplement after-school music instruction that has been impacted by budget cuts, as well as give our youth access to music as an inspiration and vehicle toward higher achievement."

The George S. May Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c) (3) organization, is a civic and community service extension of the George S. May International Company (GSMIC), a management consulting firm based in Park Ridge. The P.A.U.S.E. initiative was established by the foundation as a privately funded grant that awards financial assistance to selected programs and organizations that use music-based curriculums as a gateway to personal enrichment, community involvement, cautious decision making, and good citizenship.

Through the program, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in inner-city public schools and community-based after-school programs will learn to read music and play an instrument. Classes are led by Francisco Ybarra, executive director and founder of the Chicago's New Music School. The pilot program has started at two Chicago Public Schools: Edward Jenner Academy for the Arts and Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School. The goal of the program is to expand to inner-city schools nationwide.

."I am truly grateful to the George S. May Foundation for the Arts for selecting Jenner as a recipient of this grant, "said Sylvia Stamatoglou, principal at Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School. "Our students are very eager to learn about music in all forms."

To help support the P.A.U.S.E. initiative, the George S. May Foundation for the Arts is also collecting musical instruments and other donations from the public. The instrument drive welcomes refurbished, gently-used, or new instruments as donations where children in the program can benefit.

"Our employees and the community have teamed up to help these students fulfill their dreams in music," Kushnir said. "Whether it's donating money or instruments, George S. May Foundation for the Arts is committed to bridging the gap between cultures and creating more opportunities for children."

Donated instruments can be dropped off at the George S. May International Company, located at 303 S. Northwest Highway, in Park Ridge. For more information on P.A.U.S.E, or to arrange for a donation pick-up, visit http://pause.gsmfoundation.org or call 1-800-999-3020.

About the Performance:

Eight students from Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School, directed by Ryan Berndt, will be playing rhythm and percussion instruments. They are trained first on these instruments, so they can learn how to read music and understand sounds before they can move to the next level of bigger instruments such as drums, trumpets, etc.:

Bass, alto and soprano xylophones

Bass, alto and soprano metallophones and glockenspiels

The song they will be playing is:

Sakura, Sakura -- a Japanese folksong, in Orff Orchestration

Description of the instruments;

xylophone (meaning "wooden sound" in Greek) is a musical instrument in the percussion family which originated in Indonesia It consists of wooden bars of various lengths that are struck by plastic, wooden, or rubber mallets. Each bar is tuned to a specific pitch of the musical scale.

metallophone is any musical instrument consisting of tuned metal bars which are struck to make sound, usually with a mallet. Metallophones have been used in music for hundreds of years. Even though there are several different types used in Balinese and Javanese gamelan ensembles, including the gendér, gangsa and saron. These instruments have a single row of bars, tuned to the distinctive pelog or slendro scales, or a subset of them.

glockenspiel (German, "set of bells" or "play-[of-]bells", also known as orchestra bells and, in its portable form, bell lira or bell lyre) is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It is similar to the xylophone, in that it has tuned bars laid out in a fashion resembling a piano keyboard. The xylophone's bars are wooden, while the glockenspiel's are metal, thus making it a metallophone