How An Incredibly Talented Teacher Created An Incredibly Gifted Youth Choir !
Posted by GreaterGoodness
It’s hard to believe there was a time in music teacher Gregg Breinberg’s life when he was floundering and uncertain about his future. Breinberg, the son of retired school teachers, knew he was a strong songwriter and music arranger, but didn’t know what to do with his talents.
That all changed the day he formed the PS22 Choir and encouraged his talented fifth graders to sing with feeling. Mr. B, as students call him, and his talented group of kids are Internet sensations, and he has found his musical purpose in life. Located in Staten Island, PS22 has a diverse student body, and Breinberg’s choir reflects that diversity. Kids in the choir are from a mixture of social, economic, and racial backgrounds, and their voices blend beautifully. While many school groups post performance videos online for the public to enjoy, PS22’s videos stand head and shoulders above typical choir performances. That’s because PS22’s videos feel fresh and vibrant, thanks to their music director’s song choices, and the emotional impact the kids bring to each song they sing. The kids are usually wearing their colorful choir t-shirts, and as they sing, their facial expressions and movements are quite captivating.
PS22 Choir performs popular songs recorded by an eclectic selection of musical acts. Breinberg accompanies the kids on piano and directs their videos. Artists such as Adele, Taylor Swift and Common have publicly shared their admiration for the young singers. Not only does the choir sing well-known songs, their reputation has given them opportunities to perform for a national audience. PS22 Choir has performed with Katy Perry on the Oprah Winfrey Show, sung for the President, and appeared in concert with Jason Mraz.
Most PS22 Choir videos feature the kids at school, and they often sing animatedly while seated in the school’s auditorium. Unlike most school choirs, Breinberg encourages his kids to emote while singing, which is why the kids make whatever gestures they feel like expressing at the time. Their relaxed performance comes across as authentic, and it’s easy to tell these kids enjoy singing together.
This choir excels, in part, because their teacher emphasizes kindness, patience, and freedom of expression.
A lot of work goes into making a great choir, and sometimes the children become the teacher. Breinberg’s students describe him as being a “handful,” and they think he is “un-ordinary.” It’s clear that both students and teacher learn quite a bit from each other, and there’s a solid bond between them that goes beyond the typical student-teacher relationship. Students who demonstrate exceptional abilities can rise in status within the group and become chorus coaches. Chorus coaches get to assist their teacher with trying out new arrangements, and they also teach arrangements to their fellow choir members.
It’s clear that Breinberg’s students thrive in an atmosphere where they enjoy working in tandem with him to achieve a joint goal. Although his choir is a smashing success, he admits that getting to this point was a slow process. To keep things running smoothly, he constantly nurtures students, and gives them ample encouragement. Perhaps Mr. B’s greatest gift to the students at PS22 is his willingness to share his passion for music. He is able to instill the idea that music touches people in special ways.
Even with all their success and national exposure, one of PS22’s most moving performances was for Adriana Lopez (pictured above), a teacher from their school who is battling breast cancer. This heart-warming video really shows us the power of music and the joy this group to themselves and others. Beautiful!