As school ends and PING! cleans and stores its inventory of instruments for the summer, we want to thank the Oak Park and River Forest community for another year of stellar support.

PING! (Providing Instruments for the Next Generation) lends musical instruments to low-income children in Oak Park’s public schools in the fourth-eighth grades so they can take instrumental music instruction at school. While school music lessons are free to all, the cost of renting an instrument can make this wonderful educational opportunity inaccessible to some children. PING! aims to bridge that gap by loaning instruments, books, and supplies to children whose families qualify for free or reduced lunch, per the federal guidelines.

This year, our eighth, we had 125 kids in PING!-that is, we opened the door for 125 children to take music, who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so. In addition, PING! now provides bi-weekly private lessons to interested middle-school band and orchestra students in the PING! program. These are given for free by OPRF High School volunteer musicians after school. We also take our student musicians to concerts at Dominican University and OPRF High School to expose them to musical experiences in classical music, jazz and musical theater.

And, for the third year in a row, PING! is giving full scholarships for students to attend summer music camps-Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan and Illinois Summer Youth Music at the University of Illinois. This summer, eight students are headed to these residential camps; we are sure the experience will inspire and motivate them to excel in music in the years to come.

Our very first PING! students graduated from OPRF High School this year and all are headed to college. We wish them all the very best.

We want to especially thank the Oak Park Area Arts Council (OPAAC) for its continued support and also thank Austin Music Center for the support they provide in helping us keep our instruments in great shape.

PING! is partially funded by the Oak Park Area Arts Council in partnership with the villages of Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest, and the Illinois Arts Council, the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and private donors. One hundred percent of the donations to PING! are applied directly to programs which benefit children.

We also seek donations of used instruments-we particularly need student “percussion kits” (the ones that include a snare pad or a snare). We also need violins and violas. And we always have a need for used instrument cases. If anyone has spares, please call PING! at 524-5830, ext. 7464, and leave a message for PING! All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Finally, as we head into the summer, we say thank you to all of our generous donors and our fine instrumental music teachers, for another wonderful PING! year.

Lonna D’Oro Anderson
PING! president

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