Make Music NOLA (MMN) is an intensive music-for-social-change program. Every day, they keep at-risk youth ages 6-16 off the streets during a crucial time and engaged in a positive activity. They provide focused, tuition-free, in-school and after-school music training to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch at six charter schools and three community centers throughout New Orleans.
MMN began in September of 2011 with just five students under the name “Youth Orchestra of the Lower 9th Ward”. Since then, the program expanded to eight new locations. In 2012 they enrolled twenty-five students. The following year the program nearly doubled in enrollment and they now provide free music education to over 130 students in their string program and over 300 students in their general music programs. This year, they have provided over 2,000 hours of tuition-free music instruction and instruments to over 450 students at four charter schools and three community centers. That’s over 500 hours of string instruction and 1,500 hours of general music classes.
MMN’s curriculum focuses on New Orleans traditional jazz, while introducing students to pop, hip-hop, and classical music. Their string curriculum is coordinated by outstanding jazz violinist, Matt Rhody. During their first three years in the program, MMN violin students learn “Saints Go Marching In,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “IkoIko,” “I’m Walking,” “A Closer Walk With Thee,” among many other tunes. MMN uses the Suzuki method book for teaching the basics of string playing.
Make Music NOLA has given four of their students scholarships to French Woods Performing Arts Camp in Hancock, New York. That’s four Make Music NOLA students that were able to spend three weeks at camp on a beautiful lake, playing in orchestra, taking private lessons, horseback riding, and canoeing! They have also provided students exciting performance experiences. Their students have played live on WWOZ, at Tulane University, for Big Easy Rollergirls Games, and at the Marigny Opera House with the Preservation Hall Band!