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Westmont music teacher giving the gift of song back to his school

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:15 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Sarah Minor — sminor@shawmedia.com)
Chris Heroldt, Manning Elementary School music teacher, plays the piano during class March 20 at the Westmont school. Heroldt will be playing a fundraiser concert for the Westmont Junior High School on April 20 at Pinstripes in Oak Brook.

WESTMONT — When talking to Chris Heroldt, it is obvious that he loves music, whether it's teaching it at Westmont schools or performing in front of a live crowd.

And when Heroldt, a 10-year music teacher at Community Unit School District 201 in Westmont, was given an opportunity to play a concert to benefit Westmont schools, he jumped at the chance to be part of it.

Heroldt doubles as a member of a dueling pianos band, and will be performing a Dueling Pianos fundraiser with two other piano players for the Westmont Junior High School PTO at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20 at Pinstripes, 7 Oak Brook Center Mall in Oak Brook.

"It is a great chance for me to be able to play and bring in some money for our schools," said Heroldt. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Haylee Chapman, organizer of the Dueling Pianos fundraiser, said the PTO came up with the idea after some parents recently saw Heroldt perform at a local establishment for a similar event.

"We really enjoyed his performance, and since so many parents know him, we thought it would be a good idea to hold something like this to raise money for our schools," Chapman said. "Lucky for us, he agreed to do it."

The event is adults only, and tickets are $15 — $27 with a dinner — and can be purchased by calling Westmont Junior High School at 630-468-8300. Funds raised will be used to purchase classroom upgrades, such as technology, Chapman said.

Heroldt, 45, has been playing piano for most of his life, and teaching music for more than 20 years. He teaches at Manning and Miller elementary schools in Westmont, and plays more than 150 gigs a year at locations all over the Chicago area, both as a solo performer and in bands. His influences include classical and jazz, and more contemporary artists like Stevie Wonder and The Beatles. Heroldt plays all styles of music, which is a big plus because at many of his live shows he takes live requests from the audience, he said.

"With a dueling pianos show, people from the crowd will tip you to do requests, so basically they can ask you to play almost anything," Heroldt said. "So it helps to be able to play a lot of different types of music."

When it comes to teaching, he also works with a big variety of music. His students, he said, want to sing the modern songs in his classes, but also classics from The Beatles, and even songs from the 1920s.

"Anything that is really fun for them to sing they enjoy, no matter what the genre is," he said. "They have very eclectic musical tastes."

While many schools in the state have cut into their music programs, Heroldt said District 201's program is strong and has support from District 201 Superintendent Kevin Carey and other administrators who support the arts.

"We really get a large number of kids involved in both our music and chorus classes and programs," Heroldt said. "In some cases, we have as many as 40 percent of our students involved in music or arts classes. You don't see that at other school districts. It is a testament to our staff and administration and their commitment to the arts."

While he takes his teaching and live performances very seriously, the PTO fundraiser will give Heroldt a chance to have some fun while performing.

"While I do a lot of gigs for money, this one will be special, as the money will be to help our students," he said.

Chapman said this is the first time the PTO is doing an event like this, and she has no idea what to expect.

"I have a personal goal of raising $5,000," she said. "But anything close to that would be amazing."

For information on the Dueling Pianos Fundraiser, email Chapman at maceybean@msn.com.

About Chris HeroldtAge: 45Residence: Tinley ParkFamily: Married, two childrenOccupation: Music teacher at Community Unit School District 201 in WestmontFor more information:  To find out where Chris Heroldt will be performing, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/chris.heroldt.

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