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Trombone Shorty and Tulane to teach young musicians

December 10, 2012 10:45 AM
Mary Sparacello msparace@tulane.edu

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, who started playing music at age 4, is working with Tulane University to create a corps of musician-mentors who will guide the next generation of New Orleans musical artists.

Trombone Shorty plays with a brass band.

A five-year-old Trombone Shorty plays at a jazz funeral in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. (Photo from Trombone Shorty)

Andrews is now an internationally recognized musician who has entertained at the White House and received a Tulane President's Medal for his charity work. In addition to talent and hard work, he credits mentors with encouraging his musical development.

The Trombone Shorty 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. 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 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,” Trombone Shorty's unique style of New Orleans music.

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 says, they can learn to copyright a song.

Mary Sparacello is a writer in the Office of Development.