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The Roots of Music

The Roots of Music is a music education program for middle-school students in New Orleans. The Roots of Music is run by Allison Reinhardt and Derrick Tabb of The Rebirth Brass Band, Band Director Lawrence Rawlins, and Instructors Shoan Ruffin, Allen Dejan, and Edward Lee.

Program Objectives

To build a nationally-recognized marching band

Generations of families have taken pride in their middle school marching band's heritage and reputation. Before Hurricane Katrina, marching bands within New Orleans public schools were frequently more popular than sports. Marching bands offer children an early opportunity to learn music, follow instruction and be part of a larger group. In post-Katrina New Orleans, public schools are struggling to provide even basic education. Most do not offer music, art or sports curriculum or after-school programs. The Root Crusaders citywide marching band will compete nationally, showcase New Orleans talent, and participate in local parades and events.

To keep children off the street

The Roots of Music is taking a pro-active and preventative approach to crime in New Orleans by giving youth something better to do, something to achieve, and skills to build upon. Today, violence plagues our streets. Children are killing and being killed. In the first quarter of 2007, the city witnessed 48 murders, a 182% increase from the same period in 2006. Overall, violent crimes are up 107% versus the same period last year, with armed robbery up 160%. The Roots of Music will give children a better alternative to the street life culture in which they are currently engulfed. The Roots of Music program will offer children an entertaining place to interact with one another, learn from first-rate educators, be part of a team, and escape from violence, instability and chaos in the communities.

To bring children from different parts of the city together

Too often, teens from disparate parts of the city do not meet or develop rapport. Often this separation can lead to gang development and fighting. The Roots of Music will be centrally located, pulling students from every part of the city for one citywide marching band. Students will develop life long friendships through the program, which can help to further their development in school and into adulthood.

To support economic development efforts in the City of New Orleans

The Lieutenant Governor's Cultural Economy Report offers important considerations in demonstrating the enormous need for this type of program. This report argues that investment in the cultural economy is an increasingly critical element of any comprehensive economic development strategy for Louisiana. First, Louisiana's cultural economy enhances the state's quality of life and distinctiveness, allowing it to compete effectively in the competition for talent and business. Businesses are attracted to places with a perceived high quality of life. In fact, a recent survey of Louisiana businesses found that 55.9% of business owners reported that the overall quality of life was second only to the cost of health insurance in importance to them. In terms of positive reasons for locating a business in Louisiana, 29 percent reported that culture and the quality of life was the most positive reason and about 49 percent included it as one of the reasons. This factor ranked more positively than any other factor.

The ripple effects of a cultural development strategy extend beyond the industries directly engaged in cultural production. The most obvious beneficiary industry is tourism, which, particularly in Louisiana, depends on cultural resources and activities to attract a mobile and affluent market of families, retirees, and business and convention travel. The New Orleans Conventions and Visitor's Bureau consistently spotlights the city's food and music in national campaigns. Tourism has long been one of New Orleans' leading industries. Music, in particular, is one of the largest tourist draws. People visit New Orleans from all over the globe to experience New Orleans music during Mardi Gras, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival, Essence Festival, Voodoo Music Experience and throughout the year. The Roots of Music program is designed to prepare students for professional careers in music, or simply for lives enriched through music.

To develop talent for NOCCA and other intensive music programs

The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts/Riverside (NOCCA) is an exceptional educational institution; however, its success is due in part to students entering with at least a basic understanding of music fundamentals. NOCCA and other like institutions have long depended on elementary and middle schools to introduce the fundamentals of music instrumentation. Because such programs are currently hampered, NOCCA's longstanding history of producing extraordinary talent may now be in jeopardy. The Roots of Music is needed to teach children the fundamentals of music so that students with a future in music can excel in high caliber programs such as NOCCA.

Measurement Of Objectives

Our measures of success:


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