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Living out its mission to ensure that every child has access to music education, SpreadMusicNow recently partnered with the Preservation Hall Foundation to coordinate an instrument donation to students in the Travis Hill School at the Youth Study Center, a juvenile detention facility in New Orleans. The instruments were generously donated by Connecticut music store owners Tom and Cathy Zamecnik and their Clinton Music Center.
Ashley Shabankareh, Director of Programs for the Preservation Hall Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the partnership with SpreadMusicNow. "We are appreciative of the generous support from SpreadMusicNow. Thanks to SpreadMusicNow, we are able to serve more students in our Unlocking Potential program," she said.
The Preservation Hall Foundation was established in 2011 to ensure the longevity of New Orleans' rich musical and cultural traditions. The foundation seeks to provide opportunities for young students to explore and cultivate a personal and deep connection with their own creativity through its Unlocking Potential program. Established in 2016, the program offers one-on-one instrument instruction to teenagers detained in New Orleans' youth detention facilities.
The Travis Hill School opened in August 2016 and now has approximately 40 students who attend classes on a daily basis. The school's curriculum is based around thematic units including those of change, identity, justice, power, and choice. Each theme runs for around 20 days, an approach that allows students to participate in school even if they are only detained for a short amount of time.
The institution is named after Travis Hill, a local jazz musician who spent time at the detention center during his youth. Upon his release from jail, he used music to support nonviolence and to mentor teenagers in New Orleans. Sadly, Travis Hill passed away at the age of 28 due to complications from an infection. Recognizing the impact the musician had on children and young adults within the city, administrators thought of no better way to honor his legacy than by naming the school after him.
Students at the Travis Hill School are met with high expectations. The school believes in treating its kids like scholars, not criminals, and focuses on creating an environment of mutual respect and understanding. Teachers at the school speak often about how their students enjoy learning and how their desire to be challenged academically helps them find a bigger purpose in life.
At the Travis Hill School, instructors teach students the values of discipline and positive social behavior. Their goal is to help students develop the skills needed to become active members of their communities once they are released. Combining traditional learning techniques with innovative technologies, the Travis Hill School makes learning relevant and meaningful, cultivating an environment where students are encouraged to push themselves academically.
In addition, thanks to the Preservation Hall Foundation, students at the Travis Hill School are exposed to the vibrant arts culture that exists beyond the walls of the detention facility. With the instruments that were donated through SpreadMusicNow, the school has been able to expand how many students they are able to serve in their trombone and digital audio classes. Students participating in the digital audio classes learn how to track and record instruments and create beats, and the trombone students are proudly learning New Orleans Brass Band tunes.
"With the instruments from SpreadMusicNow, we have been able to expand our music programming, providing more in-depth instruction to students at the Travis Hill School through our Unlocking Potential Program," said Bradley Williams, Programs Associate and Teaching Artist with the Preservation Hall Foundation.
The Preservation Hall Foundation was created in 2011 to spread awareness and appreciation for New Orleans music. The mission of the Foundation is to "Protect, Preserve, and Perpetuate the musical community, heritage, and traditions of New Orleans" through education, community engagement, performance, and community support. The foundation serves more than 30,000 children each year. To learn more about the Preservation Hall Foundation, please visit www.preshallfoundation.org.
SpreadMusicNow is a nonprofit organization committed to bringing high-quality music education to children in underserved areas, helping to shape their futures and build lifelong success. Founded in 2014, SpreadMusicNow has made over $1.3 million in grants to music education programs in and out of school. To learn more or to make a donation, please click here.