It was never a question of whether or not Tiny Toes Music owner Roberta Wentling would pay it forward. The question was always, How?
The former high school choir director and middle school music teacher has always believed she wanted to to give back to the community in some way. “Ever since I started Tiny Toes Music, it’s been a dream of mine to pay it forward,” explains Roberta. “I feel very blessed that I found something that I enjoy. My life is very busy and very full. In almost every moment of every day, I find myself doing something that I am really passionate about.”
Roberta was looking for something, however, in which to channel that passion and give back to those in need. A lifelong Hinsdale resident, Roberta began Tiny Toes Music in 2009 under the umbrella of Music Together—an early childhood music and movement program. After college, Roberta taught choir and music for seven years in Las Vegas before returning to Hinsdale to raise her two daughters, Anna, age 8, and Lucy, age 6. She currently provides Mommy and Me classes in Hinsdale, Burr Ridge, and Downers Grove as well as music classes at Zion Lutheran Early Childhood Education Center.
Eventually, Roberta found a way to pay it forward through music and Zion Lutheran. This September, in conjunction with the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation (CLEF), Roberta and Tiny Toes Music will help launch a pilot program to bring Music Together to underprivileged students at Lutheran Day Nursery in the Logan Square/Humboldt Park area of Chicago.
CLEF, which funds Lutheran schools throughout Chicagoland, typically surveys families and schools in need and helps them in some way. Be it through playground restoration, building repair, or other school needs, CLEF uses monies to provide assistance. This year, Roberta and Tiny Toes Music will be on hand to raise money for the Support Lutheran Day cause.
“What we are trying to do is provide Music Together next year in school for these children, and they would get the full benefits of the program—music books, CDs, classroom materials, a teacher coming in weekly, music-making events with their families—everything that we get here would be provided for them,” explains Roberta. “As a community of families that know how fabulous music can be for children, this is something that we can all ban together and support.”
Roberta is well on her way to making this project happen. An Amazon Wish List is in place for classroom instruments the will be needed in the fall. There is also a benefit concert and silent auction with Uncle Gerry (a singer prominent on Music Together CDs) that took place at Zion Lutheran School in May. Roberta and her team secured auction items such as Sox and Cubs tickets, signed athletic jerseys, mani/pedi packages, haircuts, Starbucks gift packages, and a Ken Gilman (founder of Music Together) signed copy of a children’s music book. There are also various levels of support one can purchase to fund Music Together classes for the Lutheran Day Nursery. Roberta is so grateful to many who have come together to help make this auction a possibility. It’s especially sweet given that the mother of Roberta’s very first Tiny Toes Music class student is rising to the occasion.
Roberta feels blessed to have found people, particularly the Lutheran Day Nursery administrators, who are as passionate about music education as she is. Insufficient funds should not be a deterrent for any child to miss out on music in the classrooms. “Kids are kids, laughter is laughter, and love is love,” says Roberta. “Music supports all learning.”
For more information, visit tinytoesmusic.com or call 630-991-6215.
-Rosie Conway // Photography by Joel Lerner