Tulane University in New Orleans has just announced that an After School Academy will launch this spring to help aspiring, young musicians.
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews started playing music at age 4, parading the streets of his Treme neighborhood with a trombone bigger than he. The picture you see here shows Shorty playing in a street funeral in the Treme neighborhood at the age of five. He became a bandleader and traveling musician by age 8, and, now, is an internationally recognized musician who has entertained at the White House and received a Tulane President’s Medal for his charity work.
But Andrews hasn’t prospered by himself. In addition to talent and hard work, he credits mentors with encouraging his musical development. And now he is working with Tulane University to create a corps of musician-mentors who will guide the next generation of New Orleans musical artists.
“He understands the value of receiving opportunity and how much of a game-changer it can be,” says Bill Taylor, executive director of the Trombone Shorty Foundation. The foundation is partnering with the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane to launch the Trombone Shorty Academy, which will target underserved New Orleans high school students who are musically gifted.
“If we give other young musicians the opportunity, and they want it like Troy wanted it, we will have more successful young people,” says Jesse McBride, the Tulane instructor and popular jazz pianist picked to teach high school students starting this spring. Other Tulane students will mentor Trombone Shorty scholars as part of the university’s service learning program.
High school performers must audition to participate in the free after-school program at Tulane. Some students who will join the academy may not aspire to attend college, but organizers hope bringing them on campus will change their minds. “They will see they can be part of the Tulane community,” McBride says.
The Trombone Shorty Academy’s purpose is to teach young musicians the rich musical traditions of the region. Starting with gospel, traditional jazz and early brass band music, students will study rhythm and blues, soul and “SupaFunkRock,” a term coined by Trombone Shorty to describe his unique style, a hybrid of the New Orleans music he has played throughout his life.
Andrews also foresees the academy as a place that empowers youth to choose music as a career. That means teaching music fundamentals and business acumen. Once students learn to write music, McBride said, they can learn to copyright a song.
Andrews’ involvement with the academy will be hands-on, with opportunities for local youth to perform before large audiences once they achieve proficiency as a performance ensemble, said Taylor. “What this is about, is giving these young, promising musicians the tools to be successful,” he said.