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Need a Little Positive…Check Out PS 22!

By: Donna Hupe
Posted Fri., September 21, 2012

Have you heard about the successful fifth grade chorus known as PS 22? If you have not, then you need to learn about the incredible accomplishments and success stories that are linked with 10 year old students and one teacher in Staten Island, New York.

This chorus is among the best in the nation…and, according to New York Magazine, they are the “best-known elementary chorus on the planet”. PS 22 has been featured on Good Morning America and Nightline. They performed at the Oscars and, most recently, have been invited to perform at the January, 2013 Presidential Inauguration.

The director, Gregg Breinberg, has been the motivating factor, since 2000, when it comes to bringing out the best in students who attend this public school. "These kids come from families who are having a tough time economically," he told the Los Angeles Times during a rehearsal. “They have a hard time expressing themselves with words, but through this choral experience, there's so much emotion there, both coming from them and the people watching them." Mr. B., as the students call him, has helped students discover their potentials through singing and music.

Whenever one listens to PS 22 sing, people may begin to hear new meanings in songs. It is important to realize that these students have sung with and for many different artists including Katy Perry, the day after the Oscars, Stevie Nicks, who personally visited the students at their school, and Tori Amos, who has worked with the chorus several times. Amos stated that their arrangements of her songs were “disarming” and that she appreciated they made her songs their own.

Gregg, in one interview, had stated that one should remember these are ten year old students who will not necessarily sing to perfection. He believes that sometimes adults do not give children credit whenever it comes to their level of understanding. He has realized, throughout the years as the choral director at the largest public school in Staten Island, that fifth graders have the capabilities of combining rhythm, notes, and especially…emotions.

If you need something to increase your positive thermometer, then you need to link to the PS 22 links below. Be sure to scroll down the entire PS22 website and discover just what fifth grade students can contribute to someone’s life.

Let PS 22 provide you with hope and encouragement whenever it comes to believing in the fact that students can move forward to reach their dreams and goals!

Be sure to write your thoughts after you experience PS22. Donna Hupe communicates with Mr. B. and will send your comments to his students and him!

http://ps22chorus.blogspot.com/
(PS 22 new website…check out the various links to videos of their songs!)

http://bustedhalo.com/podcasts/interview-gregg-breinberg-ps22-choir-director
(interview with Gregg and Father Dwyer, with the online magazine for spiritual seekers, “Busted Halo”)

Comments:

This was really cool. I loved it when you showed us in class last semester. This guy does an awesome job with these kids. Its crazy that this school is really popular now because of him and what he has done. I just wonder if there is anyone else out there that we don't know of who is doing the same thing and making the same impact.
Posted by: Kevin Mitrisin at September 21, 2012 12:59pm
Thanks for the comment, Kevin...there are other teachers who have definitely made the difference in students' lives worth writing about in future blogs...I will do that very soon!
Posted by: Mrs. H. at September 21, 2012 1:16pm
After exploring the website and watching the videos, I am inspired by Gregg Breinberg's work and interaction with his students. I thought his quote in the interview, "Sometimes adults sell kids short of what they can and cannot do." He acknowledged that the students may not have mastery level musical skills; however, they have emotion and passion for what they are doing. He's working to create an awareness for better music education programs. I think the fact that he teaches popular titles to his students increases engagement and interest. Performing popular songs that the students' love increases their appreciation for the music. This blog was really inspiring and I was amazed at how well all the students sing!
Posted by: Rachel Haines at September 23, 2012 11:17pm
Great comments, Rachel! Especially liked what you said about students having emotion and passion for what they are doing...many students...regardless of their ages...possess this...it's a matter of teachers tapping them to bring about the best learning possible!
Posted by: Donna Hupe at September 24, 2012 9:28am
HERE IS A NOTE FROM GREGG TO STUDENTS! How wonderful, Donna! Thank you so much!! It's great to know the program is helping to inspire new teachers! :) --------------------------------------------- Gregg Breinberg PS22 Chorus Director www.ps22chorus.blogspot.com
Posted by: Donna Hupe at September 28, 2012 9:01am
Dear Gregg, You are amazing, my dream of what a teacher is. I listened to your chorus and watched you. Can you help me? I have for many years been a piano teacher and pianist in Vienna where I make my home, and from a wish to work in groups outside the home, came the opportunity to work with 2 small groups, one of eight 10 yr old fifth grade girls, and the other of 14 girls ranging from Grades 1-4. My question is: Do you have scores for the songs you sing with, or without, the harmonies? IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET THEM? Thank you so much for your inspiration, your hard work, and the love you have poured into your work that has spilled over around the world. Bravo, Gila Hirsh
Posted by: Gila Hirsh at October 2, 2012 9:39am

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Donna Hupe,
Education

Donna Hupe teaches ED 101 – Field Experience I and has been a Pre-Student Teacher/Student Teacher Supervisor at Saint Vincent College for the past five and a half years.