DC Schools “Playing for Change”

A few weeks ago, I happened to notice two local elementary schools – including Moten Elementary here in Ward 8 – performing in a music video released by the international musical organization, Playing for Change.

Playing for Change is the brainchild of grammy-winning music producer/engineer and filmmaker Mark Johnson. Johnson explains that one day, on the way to a New York City recording studio, he happened upon some musicians on a subway platform who had everyone so transfixed that they were not boarding the trains:

…I realized great music and art are just moments in time and they exist everywhere. We can use the energy from these moments to connect people.

This was the birth of the idea to bring the studio to the musicians in their natural environments all over the world.

pfcPlaying for Change started recording street musicians and other performers from around the world. Some videos show a single artist. But many, known as “Songs Around the World,” involve numbers of performers adding their unique voices to the song from their own home areas. For example, there is a version of “Stand by Me” which includes Grandpa Elliot and Washboard Chaz on New Orleans streets along with others playing in France, Spain, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Italy, The Congo, and the Netherlands.

In the video I found, students from Moten are seen dancing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with actress Elizabeth Banks, of Spider Man fame.

There is a long hair
that doesn’t like the short hair,
for bein’ such a rich one
that will not help the poor one.

We also see students from Noyes Elementary in DC’s Ward 5, performing with Yo Yo Ma, along with hundreds of other students in their own locations, separately creating one unusual rendition of Sly Stone’s “Everyday People.”

All the schools in this particular video are part of a national program called TurnAround Arts. Five elementaries within DC Public Schools are participating in a three-year program bringing arts to struggling schools.

Playing for Change supports many interesting collaborations and opportunities for artists of all ages. Their non-profit association specifically supports work with young students. Anyone still considering where to send some end-of-the-year donations, please consider supporting Playing for Change or another organization supporting music and arts in YOUR local schools. PFC is a 501(c)3 organization, and donations are tax-deductible

See also “Blues in Schools and Other Music Lessons.”

In addition, please consider supporting the Education Town Hall.
Contact host, Thomas Byrd, for details. (thomas.byrd at yahoo.com)

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