By now, you’ve heard of the sensational story of Susan Boyle. If you haven’t, it might be time to learn about this new invention called the internet. Her story is certainly captivating and worthy of much attention.
But the video below – while not seen as often as Susan Boyle’s audition on Britain’s Got Talent (over 100 million views) – is worth watching.
This is a great story because this isn’t about one person. It’s not about a big production. It’s not about a big marketing campaign. For me, I love the story of these 5th grades in the choir at PS22 of NYC because it reminds me about the following things:
- Music and art is a true joy and should be made available to all children and kids. We should never cut the arts from our public schools. Never. Rather, we should be investing. Public schools are important folks. Very important.
- Teachers are important and have the gift to inspire. All teachers and educators can make a difference. Read the article and tell me you’re not moved by Mr. B. I’ve had a few duds but I’ve also had a handful of teachers like Mr. B and they made a huge impact in my life.
- Kids. There’s something incredibly innocent, moving, and powerful about these kids singing. Free spirited, passionate, emotional, and joyful. As I watch this video, I think to myself, “Why wait till 47 – a la Susan Boyle.” Invest in kids. Believe in kids. Love on kids. Build them up. I was reminded of a quote from Frederick Douglass:
It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.
Watch and enjoy the choir’s amazing rendition of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida.
What are your thoughts? Impressions?
Here’s more of the story of the choir of PS22:
In a school where more than three quarters of the students are eligible for free lunch, the lyrics of the song have resonance, and the performance is haunting, emotive, and delivered with far more soul than one might expect from a bunch of fifth-graders. As Breinberg plays, he makes eye contact with the kids, coaxing performances from them and letting them enjoy themselves. Later, Davoya, one of the chorus members, explains how he does it. “At first, when I sang, I had no emotion,” she says. “I didn’t move. But Mr. B taught me to sing with feeling. With feeling and heart.”
Feeling and heart (along with an unusual repertoire) is what has made the ps 22 Chorus famous. In the last two years, this small, elementary-school choir has piqued the interest of people all over the world: music lovers and parents but also a random, devoted cross-section of the World Wide Web. In 2006, Breinberg started posting videos of the ps 22 Chorus on YouTube. He’s an ardent Tori Amos fan, so most of the songs covered by the chorus in the last five years have been by Amos; although notable exceptions include Pulp’s “Common People” (Breinberg changed the lyrics to be more child-friendly), Billie Holliday’s “God Bless The Child,” and “People Are Strange,” by The Doors. It could be gimmicky, but it isn’t: Breinberg says diversity of sound is the key to inspiring ten-year-olds. “The most important aspect of my job is to foster [the kids’] love of music,” he says. “You can make it accessible to them by offering a variety of sound. Technique comes later.”
And this rendition of Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up: