Monday, December 22, 2008

Music Rising Donation

Roots of Music has received a donation of musical instruments worth over of $20,000! The gift came from Music Rising and was administered by the Gibson Foundation and the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.

As you can see, the students at RoM are already putting this generous gift to use!

The students had a surprise waiting for them when they got off the bus in their school uniforms... shiny new trumpets.

The drummers love their new Ludwig snare and tenor drums. Playing cadences on these is way more fun than banging on banquet tables.

The horn players have new trumpets, mellophones, and sousaphones from Jupiter. Here instructor Edward Lee goes over a complicated tuba part.

Thanks again to the kind folks at Music Rising, the Gibson Foundation, and the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation for helping keep the drums beating and horns blowing in New Orleans.

We also received enormous support this year from the Jubilation Foundation, Tipitina’s Foundation, Sweet Home New Orleans, D'Addario Foundation, B'Nai Israel Baton Rouge, Ludwig, Hudson Music, and many more.

For the moment, RoM is humming along with instruments, but we are in need of donations to ensure that students can attend the classes for no charge. Buses and teacher salaries make up the vast majority of our budget. Help us out by donating here. (Please indicate Roots of Music in the PayPal form).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our Home at Grace Episcopal Church

Band Director Lawrence Rawlins shows a new RoM student how to hold a trumpet.

The Roots of Music program has found a long-term home at the Grace Episcopal Church at 3700 Canal Street in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans. Program Director Derrick Tabb has always wanted RoM on Canal Street, which is the dividing line between the Uptown and Downtown districts that separate the young people of the city. Thanks to Father Bill Terry and everyone at Grace Church for providing a safe and nurturing place for students from every corner of New Orleans to get together.

Roots of Music welcomes our newest Instructor Neva Joseph, who oversees Music Theory, Ear Training, and Voice. Thanks Neva!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Summer Break

Roots of Music students and instructors are taking the next two weeks off to prepare for our full program, which begins at the start of the school year in the last week of August. (If you're interested in enrolling a 9 to 14 year-old student in Orleans Parish, sumbit this form here.)

On the final day of the Summer program, everyone hopped on a bus and headed out to Riverview Park.

All summer, the students have been practicing their marching formations and drills in the wide open fields overlooking the Mississippi River.

Then Derrick announces "fun time" and the games begin. A few weeks ago, the students in the brass and drum sections took on the instructors in a game of football. Luckily for the students, the teachers won!

After everyone works up an appetite, they head over to the cafeteria table. This week the great folks at Slice Pizzeria donated pizza for all the students, teachers, and volunteers. Thanks to manager Dave Greengold and everyone at Slice!

Sock Hop

Last Thursday the parents' booster club threw a Sock Hop for Roots of Music students and their families. The students had a great time on the dance floor at Tipitina's, especially when the Baby Boyz Brass Band took the stage.

Did Miss Regina stop working and enjoy the music and the dancing? Nope. She was working as usual, cooking up a storm for the students like she does every day at the Roots of Music rehearsals. Shout out to Miss Regina!

Finally, we want to thank one of our many volunteers, Ronni Armstead, for helping keep Roots of Music going. Ronni was visiting this summer from Duke University and she helped Miss Regina keep the students well fed. Thanks Ready-Red!

We've been to busy to update everyone about our goings on, but more posts to come shortly...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Relocation to the Contemporary Arts Center

Band Director Lawrence Rawlins directs the RoM brass section.

Today, the Roots of Music program moved to the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), where we will hold music classes for the next six weeks. At the CAC facilities, the students and teachers have some room to stretch out. The drums, woodwinds, lower brass, and upper brass each have their own room to rehearse in, which helps everyone concentrate on their parts (and helps us volunteers save what's left of our hearing!).

Shoan Ruffin has the drummers beating on tables in a dance studio.

Allen Dejan's woodwind section has grown to 12 students in just a few weeks.

Program Director Derrick Tabb is thrilled with the facilities at CAC.

Thanks to the CAC for agreeing to host the program for the next six weeks! And thanks again to Tipitina's for helping launch the program and letting us be their guest for the first six weeks! Consider enrolling in Roots of Music or making a donation here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Good News

Check out this article about Roots of Music by Alison Fensterstock in the New Orleans Gambit Weekly...

Root Causes, June 24, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sponsorship Program Coming Soon

Roots of Music has been growing each week - the horns have graduated from buzzing with their mouth pieces to playing scales on real instruments. A few lucky drummers have started playing actual drums, and some have been assigned to snare drum, bass drum, or cymbals.

This week we took portraits of the students - over 70 so far - and will soon add them to the Roots of Music website. We hope that supporters will choose a student to sponsor and track their progress as they develop into young men and women. You could start right now by looking at these sample pictures and sponsoring one of these students via PayPal here (indicate: "Roots of Music") or e-mailing

Akia West
School: Murra Henderson
Instrument: trumpet
Interests: jumping rope, riding bike, hip hop

Tyler Foley
School: St Peter Claver
Instrument: snare drum
Interests: jazz, blues, math class, language class

Monday, June 2, 2008

Times-Picayune Article on RoM

Check out this article about Roots of Music in today's Times-Picayune newspaper...

PLENTY OF HORNS: Youths to learn the roots of music


Roots of Music instructors: Allen Dejan Jr., Edward Lee, Derrick Tabb,
Lawrence Rawlins, and Shoan Ruffin.

Today we start the third week of the Roots of Music summer pilot session. The program has grown to more than 60 students... and with your help we'll make it to 200 students by the launch of the full program in the Fall!

The most exciting news is the arrival of two new music instructors:

Edward Lee is now the leader of the lower brass section. Edward is the tuba player for the Soul Rebels Brass Band and he came up through the St. Augustine High School Marching 100 and the Jackson State University marching band. The tuba, trombone, and baritone horn players thank Edward for his help!

Allen Dejan Jr. leads the reed players in the RoM marching band. Allen is a graduate of the University of New Orleans jazz studies program and one of the leading saxophone and clarinet players in the city. In this picture, Allen instructs clarinet players Jazz Henry, Kaprisha Walker, Briana Smith, and Marviyan Gilmore (L to R).

A special thanks to all the music teachers at RoM - Matt.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Note from RoM Partner Rick Weil

Hi all,

Rick Weil here. I'm a sociologist at LSU in Baton Rouge & partnering with the Roots of Music. I know a little about music, but not like the other folks! I do know something about sociology & communities, and I think this program is great! It's going to make a huge contribution to the communities it touches and to New Orleans' recovery.

We were privileged to attend a rehearsal of the pilot program yesterday at Tipitina's. The instructors, Lawrence and Shoan, do an amazing job with the kids - keeping them engaged and building a team. And Derrick has the whole thing humming, with tons of people contributing their talents & efforts.

I took some pictures of yesterday's rehearsal, to give you a feel for what it's like to be there. Here's a slideshow ...

Oh by the way, it was Derrick's birthday yesterday ... Happy birthday, Derrick! - Rick

You can see the full slideshow and other pictures at

And you can see how some of my sociology work connects with the Roots of Music at ... including the page on RoM at

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fundraiser at Tipitina's

Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove

The second Roots of Music fundraising concert took place on Friday night at Tipitina's.

Kirk Joseph
's Backyard Groove kicked the night off with some funky New Orleans tuba-driven grooves. Kirk told the crowd about how he got his start in a middle-school marching band program and thanked RoM for trying to bring education to New Orleans' youngest musicians.

Irma Thomas took the stage and wowed the crowd with favorites like "It's Raining" and "Time Is on My Side," as well as music from her Grammy-winning CD "After the Rain." Irma remembered RoM Band Director Lawrence Rawlins as a young man, when his father Wilbert Rawlins Sr. was her drummer. Lawrence went on to play in the legendary St. Augusting High School and Southern University marching bands, and now teaches at McDonogh 32 in addition to leading the RoM band.

RoM VP Allison Reinhardt
and academic tutor Andrea Boll.

It was a festive night at Tip's and we thank the RoM supporters for coming out! - Matt

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roots of Music launches Pilot Session!

RoM Band Director Lawrence Rawlins.

This week marked the official launch of the Roots of Music (RoM), a music education program founded by Derrick Tabb of the Rebirth Brass Band to serve middle-school students in New Orleans. Over 40 children have been attending afterschool band rehearsals, where they have been introduced to the fundamentals of music theory and marching band performance.

The support of
Vic Firth drumsticks, HQ Percussion, Tipitina's Foundation, Hudson Music, and B’nai Israel Baton Rouge have allowed RoM to begin with this pilot session.

In June, the program will grow to 150 students and by the Fall we will be fully up and running as a daily afterschool program with 200 students in a dedicated facility. The program is free for all students.

This week, Band Director Lawrence Rawlins started the instrumentalists off with music theory lessons, student Reginald Williams played a tuba for the first time, and RoM Program Director Derrick Tabb helped Drum Instructor Shoan Ruffin get the drummers started with drills and counting.

We are in need of instruments as well as donations to cover the costs of busing, facilities, and salaries for instructors Lawrence Rawlins and Shoan Ruffin. Contact RoM at (504) 723-4666 or make donations at (please indicate Roots of Music on the PayPal form).

Program Director Derrick Tabb of the Rebirth Brass Band

You can learn more about Roots of Music at: