Friday, January 29, 2010

Mrs. B vs. The Mugger

This is a little song we put together in honor of my mom, Mrs. B, who had a run-in with a mugger yesterday in Puerto Rico. He got her bracelet and pushed her down, but she put up an admirable fight, and was able to do some damage of her own. So the PS22 Chorus of 2010 pays homage to Mrs. Muhammad Al-B. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This song, just by the title alone, demanded the PS22 Chorus treatment. So we completely changed around the words to the Lily Allen hit, "22", and turned it into an anthem for PS22. And of course, we're all quite proud of the outcome. These kids are just bangin' 'em out one after another, and each cover is coming out golden!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Guardian

An awesome write-up of the PS22 Chorus appeared in today's edition of the British newspaper The Guardian, one of the world's most respected news carriers. Check it out here or below. You can also see a previous PS22 write-up in the Guardian here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Under The Milky Way

Another winner from today's practice. This is "Under The Milky Way" by The Church and was actually a request I was more than happy to oblige. This happens to be one of my favorite songs from years back. And the kids do it much justice! Thanks to Mr. Eberle for joining in on the drums!

Walking On A Dream

Here is another AMAZING rendition from today's rehearsal! This is the super-catchy song by Australian band Empire of the Sun called "Walking on a Dream." The PS22 Chorus of 2010 is getting better and better with each performance, and this may be the kids' best yet!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Holy Today Show!

Big thanks to NBC and the Today Show for giving us permission to upload this video of the PS22 Chorus singing "O Holy Night" amidst holiday greetings from random New Yorkers. This footage aired nationally on Christmas Day 2009, but some stations went to local news and did not show it. (This includes, bewilderingly, New York itself where all this was filmed!) So although it's a bit late for holiday stuff, I thought this certainly would not go unappreciated.

106.7 KISS FM Interview

Had the awesome pleasure of talking with Paul Guglielmo from 106.7 KISS FM yesterday. You can check out the interview here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Alicia Keys Luvs PS22!!

Awesome to discover that Alicia Keys herself tweeted about and linked to the PS22 Chorus version of "Empire State of Mind!" Humbled and honored!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Empire State of Mind Pt. XXII

The PS22 Chorus of 2010 delivers big time on the New York anthem by Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind!" Props to Dominique & Messale for amazing jobs on the lead vocals & rap (respectively). And of course to Ethan for a well-deserved happy dance at the song's conclusion. We based our version more on the Alicia Keys Part II version, but as a tribute to Jay-Z, the kids and I created our own little rap in general music. 2010 is proving to be an extremely prolific year for the PS22 Chorus!

UPDATE (1-16-10): The "Empire State" video has already earned four Top 40 YouTube Honors (including the the #39 Top Viewed Music Video), in less than 24 hours of being posted! We'll update as usual until it peaks.

UPDATE 2 (1-16-10): New York Magazine has posted the video on their website with a nice short review! And the kids are featured prominently on their home page!

UPDATE 3 (1-17-10): Just got word that Aussie pop superstar, Kylie Minogue, put a link to the vid on her Twitter page, saying she loves the kids!

Update 4 (1-18-09): Awesome to discover that Alicia Keys herself tweeted about and linked to the PS22 Chorus version of her song with great enthusiasm! Humbled and honored!!

UPDATE 5 (1-19-10): MSN featured the PS22 Chorus version of "Empire State Of Mind" on their homepage on Tuesday!

UPDATE 6 (1-21-10): The "Empire State" vid has made its way to the "Best of Bing" list, which you can find by just clicking on the "Videos" link on the popular search engine!

UPDATE 7 (1-22-10): Thanks to Ashton Kutcher for adding to the now 100,000 views this video has earned by linking to it on his Twitter page!

UPDATE 8 (1-23-10): The video is still scoring impressive honors on YouTube, including #38 Top Favorited Music Video this week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet Sweet Wikipedia!

This song lyrically and otherwise was a perfect fit for the PS22 Chorus. Our interpretation is to feel your way through life rather than think it. That pretty much sums up our approach to music, so here's another short and sweet accomplishment from Tuesday's practice. It's a pretty obscure song called "Sweet Sweet Intuition" from the one and only Bjork. Love Erica's little solo at the end. The kids and I were listening to the song and trying to figure out what Bjork was saying there. So of course we decided it had to be, "Try. Set Your Wii." No corrections necessary. ;)

This song is a thank you to PS22 Chorus mega-fan Zendrig, who not only designed our amazing blog header, but put together the PS22 Chorus Wikipedia page. Yep, PS22 Chorus is on Wikipedia!! Check it out!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The extraordinary voices of the PS22 Chorus of 2010 come together on this beautiful song by one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Nick Drake, called "Voices." Mike shows he's got a lot of soul with his solo, even if he doesn't care about Johnny....

Nick Drake is a relatively obscure singer/songwriter from the 1970's, and was one of the most innovative guitar players of his time. His lyrics are poetry (check out Fruit Tree, Three Hours, Day Is Done, Black Eyed Dog, etc.), and this song is particularly moving, especially sung by children. Nick unfortunately passed away at only 26 years of age, but this is PS22's tribute to this incredible musician and human being.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Open Education Interview

Recently I was interviewed by Tom Hanson, editor of As a former superintendent, Tom is a veteran in the field of education. We were able to cover a lot of ground in a very thorough interview about the history and background of the PS22 Chorus. Today the interview surfaced on the site. So make sure to head on over to check it out.

Fireflies is on FIRE!!

Happy to report that our "Fireflies" (by Owl City) video with Ithacappella is making the rounds and garnering lots of attention and accolades! First, on January 8th, Ryan Seacrest (host of American Idol) put the video on his blog! Check out a screencap below!

And just this morning, the Elvis Duran Show morning crew from New York City's top radio station Z100 were talking about how much they enjoyed it! And this show not only airs here in NY -- it's syndicated on over 20 major radio stations across the country, including Miami, Cleveland, Philadelphia! Very excited to see that people are catching on to this amazing collaborative effort with Ithacappella.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

PS22 Chorus at Debi Rose Inauguration

Yesterday, the PS22 Chorus of 2010 helped to honor Staten Island's first African-American elected into the New York City Council, Debi Rose, as she was sworn into office by NY State Governor David Paterson. Both the councilwoman and the governor had wonderful things to say about the chorus as well. Here is a brief glimpse at PS22's contribution to the festivities that took place at the St. George Theater.

The Staten Island Advance posted some of their own footage of the event that includes some of the chorus performance of "Run This Town" by Jay-Z at the end. (The kids also sang "Come Sail Away" by Styx). You can see that video here. In addition they posted a nice pic of the group on SILive.

Here are some more pics courtesy of Ms. Lisa & Mrs. Johnson. Big thanks to them and to Ms. Laurie as well for all their help yesterday and always.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Yesterday, PS22 was visited by the extraordinary college choir, Ithacappella! It's so hard to put into words just how special and mutually inspiring our afternoon actually was with these amazingly talented and amazingly cool gentlemen. But I think the videos below speak volumes.

Not surprisingly, already the "Fireflies" (by Owl City) video has garnered YouTube Honors, which you can check out in the screencap below. Two Top 40 categories!!

Some of the members of Ithacappella posted some of their reflections of the day on their Tumblr page.. After reading their comments, to quote Owl City, "I got misty eyes...." For example:

DAVE G: "We go to these schools hoping to change lives, and sometimes we have OUR lives changed as well, and today was an example of that. These kids can be summed up in one response to a question. They asked us how many people we’ve met through the group, and we asked them who they’ve met. They answered “We sang for beyonce, lady gaga, obama, mayor bloomberg’ and just when you thought the answer of of an other celebrity would come up, we heard ‘And we sang for the senior citizens!’ These kids sing for the love of music, they feel it in ways I haven’t seen from any musician… ever, and they aren’t even jaded by their incredible talent, success and popularity. Their love and joy are infectious, and their performances were life-changing. Mr. Breinberg was my hero before going there, just from seeing videos on youtube and such, but this has just been so inspiring for all of us. OH that reminds me. THESE KIDS ASKED THE BEST QUESTIONS EVER. One of them asked ‘What inspires you?’ THEY’RE IN 5TH GRADE"

HARRY: "Needless to say, I was struck by the depth with which these kids understood the music they sang. We go to other elementary schools, and we get questions like “do you like dogs?” At P.S. 22 we were asked “What inspires you to sing?” Looking at the faces on these kids as they went through some of their rep was like any music educator’s pipe-dream. The surreality of it all left us deeply reflective, and I’ve decided the profound beauty of it all came from student empowerment.

"These students were making statements with what they sang, an art that every college-age musician tries to master (many with far less success). The strength that music gives comes from this very act, and such is it’s value in education. When students switch from the passive role of the traditional student-teacher dichotomy— being talked at for six hours and subverted with the mundane— to the active role of participant, that’s where I find the value in education. Thanks so much to Mr. Breinberg and PS22 chorus for making this inspiring trip possible."

ROB: "The chorus itself was indescribably cool. I’m sure you’ll hear more from other guys, but I mean it when I say that their rendition of Beyonce’s “Halo” was one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. The depth of emotion that the kids were able to communicate with their faces and voices went well beyond their years and touched me in a way I’ve never experienced. Truly amazing.

"As someone who is interested in getting into the business of music, working with these young people gave me some much needed perspective. So much of the industry is focused on image, glamour, money, and fame. Here in the midst of the flashing lights are these kids. They’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in the business (we were told by one student that Lady Gaga smells like a “fruit medley”), yet as Dave mentioned in his post they still list performing for the elderly and the town council as some of their most exciting moments.

"There is no ego in what they do, just joy. It’s the joy of making music as a way to communicate things that go beyond words. It’s the joy of creating friendships and a community based on making something beautiful together as a group. For one afternoon we had the privilege of being welcomed into that community, and we walked away with a whole new way of thinking about who we are and the music we make.

"To PS22 and Mr. B - Thank you! I think I speak for all of us when I say we learned lessons from you that years of school could never convey. I wish you guys many more years of fun and success. As you get older, never be afraid to keep expressing yourself through song. You guys have an incredible gift, and you never know who’s life you might change! Hope to see you again soon!"

JOHNNY: "When talking with Mr. B at the pizza place (Zio Nino’s by the way…) he told us that one of the things he focuses on when teaching songs to the kids is the emotion behind the text. Sometimes when listening to pop songs you forget that there is real meaning behind the words. What Mr. B wants is for the audience to press a “mute button” for the chorus’s sound, and still understand what emotion they are trying to portray. They absolutely succeeded, as they always do. When you see them on Youtube performing with huge energy and soul you think its great, but it’s nothing like seeing them perform live. Watching them do “Halo” by Beyonce was mind-blowing. The soloist was phenomenal and each and every student was emoting more than our group ever has."

And we'll leave off with a portion of my message to Ithacappella:

MR. B: "Completely overwhelmed over here! Today's was probably just the most pure fun musical collaboration we ever had, and I mean that. So so cool. I think the chorus looked to Ithacappella like big brothers! It was touching and inspiring to experience what I felt was like the grown up version of what we do. It was a completely reinvigorating day for me, much more so than I anticipated. Personally speaking, I really needed today."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg puts PS22 on YouTube!

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg just posted a video of the PS22 Chorus singing at Inauguration 2010 at City Hall on his official YouTube channel. The quality of the video is excellent! (It's the footage that was shown on NY1.) Check it out!

Monday, January 04, 2010

14 Million Views!!!

Congrats to the PS22 Chorus for achieving over 14,000,000 views of their videos on the internet! Astounding!!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

NYC Inauguration 2010

Yesterday the PS22 Chorus of 2010 got a standing ovation at New York City's Inauguration 2010 at City Hall. The ceremony had 3 major public city officials swearing into office, including third term Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Comptroller John Liu, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Also present were former mayors Ed Koch & David Dinkins, as well as police commissioner Ray Kelly, who said the PS22 Chorus "were the highlight of the day!" See the video below for more.

You can also watch the ceremony in it's entirety, courtesy of NY1, who broadcast the event live throughout the city. Now that footage is online for all to see. NY1 also did a news spot on the PS22 Chorus and you can see that here. (The entire PS22 Chorus performance of "Run This Town" by Jay-Z comes on at 1:01:43 into the video.) In addition the chorus was seen in the tri-state area on both NBC and ABC News at 11. ABC's Eyewitness News coverage of the event can be seen here. Both The Daily News & the Staten Island Advance mentioned the PS22 Chorus performance in their coverage of the inauguration in todays' papers as well.

It should be noted that this inauguration was an historic occasion as well. Comptroller John Liu is indeed the first Asian American elected to citywide office. Also, Michael Bloomberg is only the fourth New York City mayor ever to be voted into a third term of office.

Here are some more pics courtesy of Mrs. Johnson. Thanks to her and Ms. Lisa as well for the awesome video footage of the ceremony.