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As published in The Community Foundation Spotlight in The Press Enterprise on July 8, 2016.

Steinway Society of Riverside CountyAt the festival competition. Left to right: Nina Wu, Jason Wu, Ruth Moir, Catherine Duane, and Evie Wu, on Ruth's lap.Incorporated in 2002, the Steinway Society of Riverside County (SSRC) embarked on a mission to bring classical concerts to school children as enrichment and continues to grow with new and expanded programming. 

Six years after its inception, SSRC found itself in a position to fulfill an even larger need. In 2008, when the economy took a severe down turn, music was removed from all California schools in the K through 5th grades. 

Built on a foundation that was supported by individuals with doctorates in music from USC and internationally performing musicians, the organization’s board dedicated itself to building and presenting even more school programs. 

 Steinway Society of Riverside CountyHoward Shangraw (narrator), an actor from the Actors Workshop in New York. Former teacher at Idyllwild Arts Academy. On the right, Dr. Nelms McKelvain (pianist) from USC, and formerly at Idyllwild Arts, doing "Classic in School Concert - Babar the Elephant"SSRC provides music classes and piano labs to elementary schools in the Coachella Valley, classical concerts, music history classes and outreach. The programs served 21,000 children in the 2015-2016 school year.  According to Ruth Moir, President/Founder, next school year these numbers will double as SSRC will be utilizing the WiFi capacity of schools and the iPads checked out to every child in the school district. This new technology will allow the programs to instruct a greater number of children simultaneously in an interactive environment. 

“Because we work with children 80% below the poverty level and have kept music in the schools for K through 5 grades we have seen improved grades in math and better behavior in the classrooms,” said Moir. 

She noted that music lessons and in particular piano lessons develop critical thinking skills, self-discipline and teach the children to be respectful of their classmates.

Steinway Society of Riverside CountyJulianna Holmes and Dr. Nelms McKelvain both graduates of USC.“The biggest goal of the SSRC is keep the children in school and to have them graduate from high school.”

However, Moir stated the building capacity is challenging. Currently, the piano labs have a waiting list of 300 students. More than serving this immediate need, SSRC also hopes to grow the geographic reach of its school programs. 

“We would like to build capacity and expand out of the Coachella Valley and train teachers,” said Moir. “If someone is really interested in doing these programs they should give us a call and we’ll bring them over and train them.”

Funding can be challenging as well.  The organization relies entirely on donations and is run by a staff of volunteers. The Community Foundation, which Moir stated was the program’s first funder, recently supported the organization with a grant from the S.L. Gimbel Fund. However, community support is always needed. SSRC is always looking for more donors, volunteers and members. Just getting the community engaged and spreading the word would also assist the organization in growing. 

Steinway Society of Riverside Countysye sharpe, won a 4 year scholarship in Keyboard Studies to Regis College of Music in Colorado. Sye used to play in the Classic in Schools Program.“We have a number of free events each year and we welcome the general public at no cost to hear some of the most talented children in Riverside County perform,” said Moir. 

Moir is passionate about SSRC’s work and especially of the participants’ success. She stated that one of the most exciting success stories to her involved a young man in their Outreach Program. SSRC provided private piano lessons and a piano for the student who didn’t have the means to access either.  

“After 4 years of lessons with Mr. Edward Kahn, a concert pianist himself, the young man won a full four-year scholarship to a music college in Colorado,” said Moir. “Mr. Kahn currently has five students on scholarship and we have four other students on scholarships funded by private donors.”

Steinway Society of Riverside CountyLeft to right: Noah Yaghoubian, Esther Yaghoubian and Hannah Yaghoubian. All three play the piano, and all three have been Steinway Competition Winners. The Yaghoubians played for the children in the Classics in Schools Program.Moir hopes that more of the community will engage in the programming and see the far-reaching value she feels it gives to the children who participate.

“When I see these kids going off to college with scholarships who were provided with our piano lessons, that to me is one of the biggest accomplishments we’ve had,” said Moir. “It’s a dream story.”

If you want to learn more about the Steinway Society of Riverside County you can visit or call 760-772-9694.