Ravinia Festival Pushes for Accessible Music Education Through Outreach Programs

Ravinia Festival offers much more than their signature summer concerts in Highland Park. The organization is also committed to bringing music education to schools and  communities in and around Chicago.

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About 130 students enrolled in the Ravinia Lawndale Family Music School showed off their skills Saturday at the Douglass Park Cultural and Community Center. Children as young as 6 years old all the way up to seniors who live in Lawndale can take classes for free and partake in instruction on a variety of instruments.

Jhadin Beaco, now 23, has been taking piano lessons since she was 9 years old.

“Really the recitals are my favorite part, to see how much everyone has grown since the last recital," she said.

“When we started 25 years ago, we didn’t have a lot of students and couldn’t get them," said Lenora Green, a resident who serves as a community liaison for Ravinia. “I see all these students and it makes me feel good.”

Robert and Cecilia Brantley have been taking classes for five years. They were inspired to do so while their sons were enrolled in the program.

“It’s hard to imagine this quality of a program is right here in this community. Maybe a lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s excellent," said Robert.  

Ravinia Lawndale Music School is in residence at Douglass, Franklin, Homan Square, and Piotrowski parks as part of the Chicago Park District’s Arts Partners in Residence Program.  It’s one of a dozen different educational programs that Ravinia offers throughout Chicago and as far north as Waukegan. The portfolio of programs is called Reach, Teach, Play, and over the years, it has provided equitable access to music to more than 75,000 people.

“We’d like to see more children of color staying with music and staying with classical music so that the orchestras of the future will be more diverse," stated Christine Taylor Conda, director of Ravinia’s Reach, Teach and Play program.

Classes at Ravinia Lawndale Music School begin again in late January. 

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