Resilience. Confidence. Passion. All characteristics that Hailie and her grandmother, Hildegard, use to describe the impact PING! has had on Hailie, making her “who she is today,” according to Hildegarde. Hailie began playing flute, a band instrument, in 4th grade at Lincoln Elementary in River Forest. But, unlike other young musicians, she soon began learning violin too, part of the orchestra. Both instruments were supplied to her by PING! (Providing Instruments for the Next Generation). Hailie later undertook cello, and plays piccolo when needed, like for this season’s OPRFHS Marching Huskies, where she also serves as flute section leader.  

“Hailie backs down from no challenge,” says Hildegarde. Her “intellect blossomed and matured through the music program.” Hailie participated in PING’s Mentor Program as a Roosevelt middle schooler and takes weekly private lessons, funded by PING!, as an OPRF student.  

Hildegarde says instrumental music and PING! programming has increased Hailie’s self-confidence. “When she was younger, she didn’t have this type of confidence,” says Hildegarde. She sees Hailie’s confidence carry over socially and academically, too. 

Hailie has participated in musical opportunities from solo recitals through her cello teacher to improvising on flute in Jazz at OPRF, to traveling to Memphis and New Orleans on the OPRF performing arts trip, spring 2023, to embarking with the Marching Huskies for the Thanksgiving Parde at Disney World this month, to enrolling in both curricular band and orchestra at school even though she was first told it could not be done. 

“If you have a passion to do something, you will achieve it,” says Hailie.

PING! (Providing Instruments for the Next Generation)

PING!, a 25-year-old, community nonprofit organization, provides band and orchestra instruments along with mentoring, workshops, and access to lessons, music camps, and trips to students in need in grades 4 through 12, bringing true equity to instrumental music in Oak Park and River Forest public schools. In our community’s high-quality school music programs, PING! students can be on par with peers, regardless of their financial situations, and feel like they belong. PING! is serving 150 young musicians this school year, at least 75% people of color, bringing diversity to instrumental music while providing access to all. Help support young musicians. 

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