Students Prepare to Share Musical Fruits of Labor

Play It Forward instrumental recitals set for late May, June.

More than 200 PIF students are excitedly preparing to perform at recitals in front of their families, friends and school communities.

Play It Forward Program Director Travis Johnson says recitals will take place in late May through mid-June for elementary children enrolled in such Portland schools as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and KairosPDX as well as middle and high school students studying music virtually.

Each child who participates in a recital will receive a commemorative medal as well as a certificate, he adds. Johnson says for many children, the recitals mark one of the first times in their lives they showcase their talents in front of an audience.

“It is a pretty big accomplishment for a second grader to walk up to a microphone, say their name as well as what songs they’re going to play and then they do it,” Johnson says.

Johnson notes the annual student recitals are the culmination of weeks and weeks of preparation, starting around February of each year. Each child works with their teacher to select songs to perform either as a solo musician or in groups. The recitals feature a selection of both original music students write themselves as well as songs they learn to play on piano, keyboards, guitar, and ukulele.

Johnson adds that PIF teachers enjoy seeing the children come together and support each other when they perform group pieces. While most children seem to rise to the occasion with confidence, some do experience a bit of stage fright, and that’s the moment when peers can really support them.

“Sometimes one kid will say, ‘I’m really scared’ and another kid will say, ‘You’ve got this!’”

PIF teachers instruct children not only how to play, but also how to read, write AND compose their own songs. Performing original works is a thrilling moment for many children.

“When you write your own music, you get that personal connection that you don’t get when you play someone else’s,” a student told PIF recently in a survey.

PIF Board Member Principal Teresa Seidel of Dr. MLK, Jr., School says she loves the annual recitals.

“One of my favorite moments is when our PIF students present their hard work at the end of year recital,” she says. “The students are all in community together, in front of their loved ones, and also on the stage all by themselves. It is a challenging experience that I wish all of our students could have!”

Thank You to Our Recital Sponsors