By Pamela Bieri
In 2000, a group of concerned Coachella Valley residents rallied to bring live classical music programs into local schools. But by 2002, many of the school district music programs were disappearing because of state and county funding cuts to the arts.
However, the Steinway Society of Riverside County (SSRC), then a newly minted 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, was ready to step up to support existing programs and create new ones.
Fast forward: Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022, SSRC provides free music education and instruction programs to all three Coachella Valley school districts, serving some 35,000 children each year. The programs are ready to start when the classes open.
Ruth Moir, SSRC founder and CEO, said, “During the pandemic, we produced some video and live streaming programming – such as our Mr. McSymphony music appreciation series and our four-part music Education Programs – that were available to classrooms and students at home. But there is nothing more important for students learning an instrument than working with a teacher in person.”
Also overseeing SSRC’s programs and fundraising this year is incoming Board President, Michelle Cozmuta, who is an accomplished musician and teacher. She has been an SSRC volunteer for the past eight years co-producing its Classical Concerts series with professional musicians among other programs.
A native of Romania, Cozmuta said, “I consider myself very fortunate because I had the opportunity over the years to teach both in Europe and the USA. I encourage my students to participate in recitals, festivals and competitions and they love doing so! The Steinway Society offers so many of these opportunities for local children and I am pleased to be a part of this successful organization.”
SSRC’s Ukes in School program is geared toward 4th and 5th grade students who receive their own ukulele and all necessary materials, free of charge. Teachers are provided for the group lessons held on campus after school.
Since 2013, more than 380 students have learned the ukulele thanks to SSRC’s innovative program.
Education Programs consist of Strega Nona (grades K-2nd), Basics of an Orchestra (4th grade), History of Music 1600-1900 (5th grade and high school versions), and History of Jazz (10-12th grade); and Piano Labs in Schools that include electronic pianos, materials and teachers for grade school children.
The Classic Concerts in Schools features pianists, instrumental soloists, dancers, opera singers and other recognized musical artists. Attended by kindergarten through 12th grade students, concerts are held in centrally located multipurpose rooms and auditoriums. SSRC reaches thousands of students each year with these programs.
SSRC’s outreach program provides private piano lessons, pianos and scholarships for talented children with a financial need. For more information and to donate, visit http://steinwayriverside or call (760) 341-4130
By Pamela Bieri