Make Music NOLA Enlivens OPPS Students’ Education with String Instrument Musical Program

Photo source: Make Music NOLA

Make Music NOLA is bringing the beauty of string instruments into the lives of students. This non-profit organization creates access and opportunity for Orleans Parish public school students to learn a musical instrument beginning at an early age. The in-person group classes offer intensive music education and instrument instruction from teachers who have a rich background in music and education.

Executive Director of Make Music NOLA, Laura Patterson, told me a little about the program that has been making a difference in the lives of children and encouraging creativity and music development since 2011. Make Music NOLA’s programs are open to any student in Orleans Parish whose eligible for free or reduced lunch who otherwise wouldn’t be receiving a music education.

“The program’s emphasis is string instruments- violin, viola, cello, and double bass,” Patterson explained. “So many programs put on emphasis brass instruments; our focus is on the importance of strings. String instruments are easier for small children to learn and, in early jazz bands, the violin was often the lead instrument.”

Make Music NOLA partners with charter schools to provide string classes and K-4 general music instruction during the school day and offers after-school programs. The program’s teachers work within the charter school community to provide high-quality music instruction as part of the curriculum.  Guest artists for workshops and performances come in, and students from the in-school programs have the option to attend Make Music NOLA’s Saturday classes, summer sessions and perform in end-of-semester recitals.

No previous music education is necessary to be accepted to Make Music NOLA and students here are taught basic music instruction from the beginning. Children as young as six begin learning instruments and have the opportunity to participate in workshops with professional musicians. Students have previously participated in workshops with T-Ray the Violinist, Nadia Salerno Sonnenberg, Gwen Laster, Johnaye Kendrick, and Mollie Docuste. Before Covid, students participated in multiple concerts throughout the year and, during Covid, the Make Music NOLA team put on seven virtual concerts for students.

Photo source: Make Music NOLA

The music education of the program is well-rounded, and students have the opportunity to attend field trips to NOCCA and performances around the city.  The program has also sponsored seven students to attend summer music camps outside of New Orleans.

With Make Music NOLA, students receive a music education that will carry them throughout their lives.

“Our oldest students are 16, and we have students that have gone on to pursue their music education in high school and college,” Patterson said.

In New Orleans, music is a part of our local culture, and Make Music NOLA is working to ensure that we have talented musicians making beautiful music for generations to come. To learn more about Make Music NOLA, make a donation, or for information on how you can get your child involved, visit the Make Music NOLA website. You can also see the school in action on their YouTube page.

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