Some teachers leave a lasting impression that changes our life and ignites our inspirational flame. If you’ve ever had a teacher like this, consider yourself blessed. A great teacher can make the world of difference and motivate you to follow your destiny and dreams. Gregg Breinberg is one of those teachers; a driving force that inspires his students to achieve great things and aspire to be the best.
Breinberg is the chorus director at the Public Schools District 22 in Staten Island, NY. He put together the PS22 Chorus, naming them after the school. In 2007, Breinberg began posting films of the students’ chorus performances on You Tube. “I initially started recording the kids at their rehearsals for purposes of self-evaluation, and have been doing it long before YouTube entered the picture for PS22,” Breinberg said. The videos allowed Brienberg to fine-tune the performances and work out any trouble spots.
“The first thing the kids learn in their music class is that music is a language of emotion, and that definitely translates into the performances,” Breinberg said. He is a perfectionist and in the beginning that hurt and helped him develop the chorus. Once he loosened up and let the students enjoy the process of music-making Breinberg saw a huge change. “There was an added dimension to their sound when I allowed them to express the emotion of the song and not have them sing like tin soldiers,” he said. “It was a cathartic lesson for me on the importance of balance, and probably the most significant key to the success of the program.”
The videos gained media attention and musicians in the music industry noticed the PS22 Chorus. Breinberg recognizes Hollywood star Perez Hilton as the chorus’ “godfather.” “We are eternally grateful to him for promoting the kids. He’s been posting our videos on a regular basis for the past five years,” Breinberg said.
Since Breinberg put the PS22 Chorus together the children had the opportunity to perform with Tori Amos, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, and Common - just to name a few. In 2010, PS22 was invited to perform at the 2011 Oscars. After singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, at the Oscars, the kids received a standing ovation.
Each year it gets tough because the children advance on to middle school. “But it’s a part of life and leads to new beginnings,” Breinberg said. A lot of the students keep in touch and visit from time to time. “Fortunately great things just continually seem to come to the PS22 Chorus, and we’re hoping that it’s a trend that continues,” Breinberg said.
Breinberg recognizes his work and the kids as a huge day-to-day inspiration. “My biggest personal inspiration is my mom. She’s the most beautiful person inside and out,” Breinberg said. His mother taught him the rewards of hard work and instilled her love of music and joy of working with children in him. “Every success I’ve earned for myself and the chorus goes back to the foundation she gave me,” Breinberg said.
There’s no doubt that Breinberg’s passion for music and desire to teach children is life changing. His films of PS22 and innovative teaching style have set the bar. It’s hard not to fall in love with PS22’s soulful voices. The children’s love for music is articulated through their expressions and voice; they evoke the inspirational flame within all that watch them.
To View Videos of the PS22 Chorus check out: http://ps22chorus.blogspot.com/