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The Glee Project
Local Studio City elementary school, Rio Vista receives some special attention on The Glee Project.

Helpful Links: Education Through Music-Los Angeles
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The Glee Project Gives a Local School a Year of Music

For anyone that will listen I like to sing the praises of what I call the “other elementary school in Studio City.” Rio Vista Elementary is situated just on the boundary between Studio City and Toluca Lake, and this little school of about 400 students is a gem to the children who attend it. A wonderful principal, excellent teachers, and involved parents mostly contribute to this wonderful school. And like all schools in the LAUSD, Rio Vista has felt the wrath of budget cuts. But these cuts can sometimes lead to an unexpected blessing.

In early April of 2011, three of Rio Vista Elementary’s fifth-graders were asked to participated in a new show for the Oxygen network called “The Glee Project.” In the show, contestants competed for a grand prize—a seven-episode role on the hit TV show Glee. From 40,000 applicants, the show aired with 12 finalists, ages 18 to 21 for the coveted prize. In each episode, one of the contestants was eliminated and every one of the 10 episodes had a theme with a cast member from Glee. The theme of the episode with the Rio Vista fifth-graders was called “Generosity.” In the show the four final contestants were to mentor four fifth-graders. (There was one other fifth grader from another school.)

One of the consequences of budget cuts is the elimination of programs like PE and music. That’s where the non-profit organization called Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) steps in. This organization’s mission is to bring music back into schools. Rio Vista’s fourth and fifth graders—and a total of 3000 kids throughout Los Angeles—enjoy instruction in guitar, recorder, and the basics of music.

The producers of Glee have done a few things with ETM-LA in the past, and when The Glee Project was preparing their Generosity episode, the producers apparently thought it would be a good fit to have the final four contestants be generous with their talents and mentor the musically inclined fifth-graders. The results were magical. Even though the older contestants were supposed to be giving to the younger children, it seemed that the contestants themselves were the most touched. The younger kids were even teaching their mentors a few things about music.

And the magic didn’t end with the August 14th airing of the Rio Vista Elementary will receive some generosity too. A check of $15,000 was presented to the school on behalf of Oxygen Media to ensure that every child, pre-K through fifth grade, will receive music instruction from ETM-LA for the 2011-2012 school year. A gesture that principal Mr. McClay graciously accepts.

In times of budget cuts and financial distress, it’s wonderful to see this kind of generosity expressed to our children.

If you missed the episode, you can watch it above, and if you want to learn more about Eduction Through Music-Los Angeles, you can find them at

The Glee Project is produced by Ryan Murphy Television and Embassy Row with Ryan Murphy, Dante Di Loreto, Michael Davies and Shauna Minoprio serving as executive producers.  Written by Todd Jones Proud parent of one of the fifth graders on the show.  Be Liam's fan at


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