The Downers Grove Music Club has a very long history here in Downers Grove – it was founded in 1927. Little by little we are approaching our hundredth-year anniversary. The club has always been focused on enriching the community with music through a variety of different means.
One is to bring music to the community. We do that mainly through our concert series each year, in collaboration with the library. The other side of what we do is supporting music education, which we have expanded over the years.
We began our involvement in music education in the 1940s, with the piano festival and competition – that has been going strong ever since then. This offers an opportunity for young piano students, up through their senior year in high school, to perform for a judge to receive nice constructive comments and criticism, to help them improve their skills.
About 100 students participate each year, ranging from age five up to age 18. There is also a competitive element, for some of the more advanced students, where they can compete for monetary prizes. We’ve expanded the educational outreach programs to additionally offer monetary music awards to very accomplished high school music students of any discipline – not just pianists — here in District 99.
Our most recent addition to this music awards program, has been to offer private lesson scholarships to elementary and middle school students in the District 58 orchestra program. Since string instruments are very challenging, we wanted to focus on those students to strengthen their music education from the beginning. That’s been going strong – we get so many applications for this, and we choose about six students each year.
Pre-COVID, we held a series of monthly concerts in collaboration with the library, from September to May. Our concerts have usually featured the members of the music club who enjoy performing for an audience. Since everything shut down and the library closed, we had a number of our spring events canceled – our final concert series event and two other student-oriented concerts. We have been turning our focus on presenting an online concert series beginning in October. These may be viewed on our website and we are currently in the process of lining up performers.
Thankfully, when it came to our educational programs, there was no interruption due to the corona virus in awarding this year’s recipients . We were able to sneak the piano festival in right before everything began to shut down so the students were able to perform in person for the judge(s) and receive the appropriate recognition. The application process for the high school music awards and the private string lesson awards is an online process, so that went ahead as planned, with the selection of the recipients being made virtually.
Normally, we would present the awards live at a celebration at the schools, but this year sending the awards through the mail had to suffice. The feedback has been great, we received some wonderful thank you notes from the students and I’ve been hearing from many parents that they’ve been able to set the kids up with private lessons this summer – since many tutors are teaching virtually.
Our donors have been very understanding during this time and have continued to make their donations. It’s been wonderful and has allowed us to keep moving forward. We’re glad that we were able to provide many students with learning opportunities despite the circumstances, and we’re hearing back great things.
The Downers Grove Music Club is moving forward and we’re doing our best to be as flexible as possible considering the situation. We are anxious to get back to offering live music to the community and seeing everyone again in-person.”