Today was another excellent day shadowing Sir Oppenheimer. I started the morning by doing some research on the community needs of Albany Park (expect more info on this later). This was followed by the most amazing part of my day. I was privileged to sit down for a long lunch with Albert, Aubree Weiley and Bob Fiedler. Aubree and Bob are the program director and executive director, respectively, of the People's Music School (PMS), which is the umbrella organization for the YOURS project. These lovely folks took over two hours out of their day to talk with me. After meeting with these wonderful people, I decided that Albert has the best job ever. The chemistry amongst this trio is tangible. They share the same mission and the same vision. They consider on-site programming at PMS and off-site YOURS Project programming not as separate entities, but as two programs working together to achieve the nearly the same goal. They all agree that no matter what, the most important thing to consider is whether or not the children and families are being served in the most effective way.
Add this to the fact that the YOURS teachers and staff get it, and it's no surprise why this phenomenal sistema-inspired organization has persevered through good times and bad.
This inspiring lunch was followed by a positive meeting with the Parks Department concerning potential partnerships (more on that later as well). After this, I got to do my favorite thing in the whole world: teach brass! I absolutely loved working with the trumpeters, hornists and trombonists from the YOURS orchestra. A highlight was being able to hand over some of the teaching duties to Louis, a 9th grade trombonist who graduated from YOURS and is now a high school intern. Louis did a fantastic job, producing immediate results.
After programming, Albert and I went out to dinner with YOURS horn teacher Katie Swaydis. Katie and I have an uncanny amount of common traits: we are both vegan horn players with nose piercings who love sistema. We helped Albert enjoy his second vegan meal in as many days, while having great conversation about YOURS and life. This dinner may not seem like it was a crucial part of the business day, but in a way that is what made it stand out to me; the YOURS staff like each other. They like to hang out beyond program hours. This is a major factor in program stability and sustainability.
YOURS is on fire, ladies and gentleman. Expect many great things from this organization, and from People's Music School, for years to come.