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When costs are cut in the educational system, the arty subjects always suffer the most – and so do the pupils. Literature is an important foundation to creating dreams, mathematics allows people to put all the dreams together in logical and strikingly illogical forms, and music creates the melody and spin for the dreams.

To help make the dreams come true, Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea joined Keith “Tree” Barry to establish the Silverlake Conservatory of Music in 2001. Situated on Sunset Boulevard, the non-profit institution offers private lessons in most instruments to children and adults at reasonable prices, and also provides funding for those who cannot afford it.

There is a “20-Peace Orchestra”, where Duke Ellingtons-in-training can get a taste of classical, pops, big band, and Brazilian sounds. The Funk All-Stars Workshop lets students channel their inner James Browns with grooving jam sessions, and the Youth Chorale gives pint-sized singers the chance to learn harmonization and different styles of singing. The conservatory boasts eight air-conditioned studios so students can work up a cramp-free sweat while they jam, and there is also a recital area for clinics and performances – just in case that inner performance diva needs to break free.

Flea hasn’t thought about a nationwide program yet, but believes all children deserve the chance to study music as he did.

“Even a moderately simple understanding of music leads to a much richer life,” he said.

The breaking-the-barriers bassist is too humble to declare that the Silverlake Conservatory will be his legacy, but he is sure of one thing: “It’s the best idea I ever had.”

The crucial part of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music funding is the annual Hullabaloo concert, which provides money for scholarships to more than 100 low-income students whose families would not be able to afford instruments and lessons and also helps to expand the school’s summer camp program. The event’s name, “Hullabaloo,” was chosen to signify the youthful enthusiasm heard emanating from the SCM’s storefront location in Sunset Junction, Silverlake.

Attendees at last year’s event, which took place on
May 5, 2007, were treated to a night of entertainment from actor Woody Harrelson and magician/musician Rob Zabrecky, as well as very special performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Charlie Haden, the Ditty Bops, students and faculty of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, and other special guests. The evening also featured a silent auction to raise funds for the school’s programs.

Keep an eye on Look To The Stars for more information about this year’s Hullabaloo event.

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