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September 21, 2021

New Orleans Music Education Convening Recap

My tour group walked into Bethune Elementary to the sound of jazz. Following the music, we were graced with the sounds of Bethune’s music students and a set of world renowned jazz musicians and a living legend serving as instructors.  

As the trumpet players practiced their scales, saxophonist Calvin Johnson, Jr. outlined the importance of risk taking and confidence in improvisation.

 “Use what you’ve already got to get to the unknown…
If you don’t own it, how can somebody else buy it.”
– Calvin Johnson, Jr.

That experience at Bethune framed my next two days.  Music education teaches the process of creating music but more importantly, it teaches life lessons as well. In New Orleans, we have a responsibility to provide opportunities for young people to embrace their unique musical culture and heritage and to gain the important lessons that it provides.

Converge had the pleasure of working with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, ArtistCorps and the Preservation Hall Foundation on their New Orleans Music Education Convening on May 10th and 11th. Over those two days, participants were blessed with knowledge from educational panels, speakers and the largest contingent of New Orleans band directors and school music educators I had ever seen.

Converge Principal, Takema Robinson and I facilitated strategic investment sessions with national and local foundations, national and local programs and education stakeholders to create a bold vision for music education in New Orleans and tangible steps to achieve them.  We used the rich discussions and knowledge of the two days to frame the discussion and were honored to have legends, Germaine Bazzle and Ellis Marsalis, imparting wisdom to the proceedings. At the sessions’ conclusion, the group was able to reach some solid next steps and a vision forward for New Orleans music education that embraces the work of the past while taking steps to strengthen the work for the future.  It was a pleasure working with all of the participants and I look forward to the work to come.

James Logan
Converge Senior Associate Consultant

Intro Photo: NOCCA students Fumie Nimtz on saxophone, Diji Diallo on trumpet, and Kerry Lewis on bass.
Photos by Artist Corps New Orleans
View more photos here.