Music & Reading, in harmony at the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center

 

Gordon Philanthropies is honored to support the musical efforts of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) in Inglewood.

 

Our foundation’s main focus is literacy. You are probably thinking, “But YOLA is a music school!” Indeed it is. It is an incredible school where brilliant children learn to play musical instruments for free and, most importantly, fall in love with music.

Gordon Philanthropies Foundation fights so hard to place books in the hands of students without the financial means to purchase books because every aspect of our modern society requires strong reading skills. For a child to be academically successful, they must have strong reading and writing skills. Our partnership with YOLA in Inglewood is designed with music students in mind, and the chosen books have a musical theme, such as Harlem’s Little Blackbird, The Bat Boy and His Violin, A Horn for Louis, and many more exciting books. Gordon Philanthropies enthusiastically provided over 500 culturally appropriate and diverse books with a music theme.

The YOLA music school in Inglewood, which Frank Gehry designed, beautifully outlines the attention to the architectural details he used to create a memorable masterpiece. The music hall invites rays of lights to gracefully dance from the atrium throughout the hall. In addition to the beauty of the building’s aesthetics, one can feel the joyful musical notes bouncing from every corner of the building as the kids play their instruments. The kids’ auditory and tactile excitement echoes through the halls.

YOLA provides a creative outlet that many students would not have access to if not for this school. Our tour guides, Moses and Josue (both alumni themselves), are paying it forward because YOLA touched their souls. Moses returned to YOLA as a music teacher after graduating from the university. He is not the only one. Several music teachers are YOLA alums and have returned to provide the same experience for others. Josue, also a talented musician, is the center’s communications director. His little sister currently attends YOLA. During the tour, Josue and Moses shared their stories with such love and commitment that demonstrated their passion and excitement—even if their words were muted.

On Friday, July 15th, Gordon Philanthropies staff, along with 600 other attendees (mainly proud parents), attended the students’ summer concert. And what an amazing concert it turned out to be! The students, wearing various animal ears’ headbands, poured their hearts and souls into their performance. It was remarkable to watch. The kids’ dedication, commitment, and discipline, as well as their respect for their teachers, instruments, the audience, and one another, palpably demonstrated their spirit of kinship. If this is the result of learning to play a musical instrument, then every student should have this opportunity. Tiffany DeCoursey, proud parent, said, “I know Inglewood has a lot to be proud of, such as Sofi and the Forum, but this is the city’s proudest achievement: YOLA.” This school has changed the lives of many children living in Inglewood, where the cost of private music lessons or purchasing a musical instrument would make it nearly impossible for a child to pursue lessons.

Thank you, YOLA, for the vibrant experience that intensified the audience’s spirit as the students performed their summer concert. Thank you to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the vision and foresight to provide such a powerful and artistic life-changing experience for so many children. And thank you for having Gordon Philanthropies be part of the magic and allow us to contribute to your musical and educational efforts.

 

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