New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band Reaches Out to Brooklyn Music Students (via The Village Voice)

“This is like a Transformer. It’s going to take over the world,” says Ben Jaffe, creative director of New Orleans’s famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band. He’s pulling a collapsible upright bass out of its case and showing Justin, a fifteen-year-old student from the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, how to put it back together. The neck snaps into its body with the efficiency of interlocking building blocks, and the strings fall into place. “Having a bass like this really helps when you’re traveling the world.”

Justin has never played an acoustic bass before, though he’s been learning on an electric for three years now. “It was intimidating at first because they have way more experience than I do. They know how to play much better than I do,” he says. “But they were welcoming. I’m gonna get more into acoustic bass and see how it progresses.”

Along with other students meeting with PHJB, Justin is part of the conservatory’s Music Partners program, which brings weekly music instruction to underserved communities free of charge. Karen Geer, executive director for the school, explains: “We serve 7,000 students; 5,000 are in our Music Partners program. The kids that are performing [today] are in those underserved communities. They take Teen Jazz at the conservatory on Saturdays, supported by the Amy Winehouse Foundation and the New York Community Trust — they get scholarships. We’re just thrilled to be here because the kids would never have this chance to perform with this caliber of musician.”

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