A Los Altos teen has launched a nonprofit organization that provides free online music classes to students in grades K-12.
Rhythm in Place aims to help those whose music classes have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to founder Ella Freda-Eskenazi, a senior at Los Altos High School and member of the marching band.
“I realized that a lot of students haven’t had a music education since quarantine,” she said. “I was mostly inspired by my experiences of not having any band class since March, and realizing that I had the time and the resources to create such an organization.”
Freda-Eskenazi then reached out to her friends from band to see if they were interested in tutoring. After creating a website, she launched the initiative in early June.
Since then, Rhythm in Place has gained more than 80 tutors and team members, according to Freda-Eskenazi, as well as more than 70 students. All of the tutors are in high school or college.
Small-group and private sessions are offered for instruments (18 in all), singing and music theory. Classes are available in seven languages, Freda-Eskenazi said, and Rhythm in Place accommodates students with disabilities as well.
Although Freda-Eskenazi is not currently tutoring, she hopes to teach when more students express interest in her main instrument – the flute. In the meantime, she’s busy contributing in other ways; Freda-Eskenazi estimated that she’s already invested more than 400 hours into Rhythm in Place.
“It’s just really great to see the students having such a great time, and the tutors having fun with them,” she said.
Simran Gupta, a junior at Los Altos High, is one of the tutors. She teaches singing lessons to a small group of students ages 5-7 and also teaches private lessons to a 10-year-old girl from France. The 10-year-old has made significant progress since the start of her lessons, according to Gupta.
“When she first started with me, she was really shy, but over time she has started practicing on her own,” Gupta said. “I taught her ‘Do-Re-Mi’ from ‘The Sound of Music,’ and she just fell in love with that song. She would tell me the next class how she constantly kept singing it.”
To make Rhythm in Place classes accessible, Freda-Eskenazi has organized a fundraiser to provide instruments for low-income students.
“Everyone is in the same boat and tackling difficult situations, especially economically, so we really want everyone to have complete access,” she said.
So far, nearly $300 of the $1,000 goal has been raised. Freda-Eskenazi said that any money that exceeds the goal will be donated to Feeding America.
Freda-Eskenazi added that she hopes to continue Rhythm in Place after the pandemic ends. The founder said the organization is always seeking new team members and tutors.
For now, she is thrilled that Rhythm in Place is making a positive impact on students.
“This one little kid, she sent us an email – she said, ‘Can we have homework between classes? Because I really enjoy doing it,’” Freda-Eskenazi said. “I’ve always loved music, so it’s really cute for students who’ve never had that experience before to introduce them to a new world.”
To enroll in classes, apply to become a tutor and for more information, visit rhythminplace.org.