Not every local family is able to afford instrumental music for their children, and the musical enrichment opportunities their peers take part in. Creating equitable access in band and orchestra programs, and beyond, for students in grades 4 through 12 in Oak Park and River Forest public schools is what PING! (Providing Instruments for the Next Generation) has been doing for 21 years.

For two Oak Park sisters, Japera and Jentille Dallas, who both started playing instruments in fourth grade, PING! not only provides instruments, but offers opportunities for them to grow as students.

In middle school, Japera, received violin lessons from a PING! mentor, an OPRF high school student musician. Now an OPRF student herself, Japera attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp this past summer in Michigan with PING!’s help. After experiencing improvement in her play at camp, Japera said she was ready for more advanced lessons. Now, with a scholarship from PING!, she takes private violin lessons for the first time from a professional teacher.

Jentille, a Percy Julian Middle School eighth grader, plays the flute. This summer she also attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and currently works with a PING! mentor. “They told me (at Blue Lake) I am ready for a more intermediate-level flute,” she said. PING! put that step-up instrument into Jentille’s hands this school year. “Being in music has opened my eyes to new things and to try new things,” she said.

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