Albany Park youth orchestra broadens students' horizons

December 21, 2013 (CHICAGO)

In the Albany Park neighborhood, students are learning the classics and playing like pros.

The sound of classical music is familiar here at Hibbard Elementary School in Albany Park. Hibbard is one of two Chicago Public Schools where the People's Music School offers free instruments and free afterschool instruction for low-income students.

"I would have not been in an orchestra if I had to pay. If I had to pay for classes or lessons, it would be like too much for five days a week," said Mary Carmen Luna, 13, violinist.

The 37-year-old Uptown-based non-profit sees music as a vehicle for social change.

"We come in and we teach them how to achieve. We get them addicted to achievement through music and that idea of discipline of dreaming and doing is transferable to every aspect of their life," said Albert Oppenheimer, People's Music School.

Older students offer peer-to-peer tutoring while parents are asked to volunteer as their investment.

"The teachers are so dedicated and you just feel that the love for music and for the children so it makes me want to participate and be a part of it," said Ana Soto, parent.

As the students learn intricacies of Beethoven and other classical composers, some say the experience and exposure broaden their minds beyond measure.

"I noticed that this helps us with our normal studies at school because think of it, reading the music is like reading a book, and learning about the composers and theory is like learning history," said Jonathan Alday, 10, violinist.

The People's Music School youth orchestra program operates its second site in Logan Square.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.