East side students attend a Wynton Marsalis soundcheck

I get to write about the many things I like about my job, but last week was pretty special.  Before Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center played to a sold out house at the Paramount, he allowed us to invite 50 Austin students to attend a sound check.  After the sound check two members of the band stayed and talked with the youth.

While the students were hesitant to talk at first, eventually they were asking questions like these:

“How can we make a living as musicians?”

“Do you get more inspired the more you play?”

“How important is it to practice everyday?”

“What tips do you have for playing the low notes on the baritone saxophone?”

Afterwards one of the teachers from East Side Memorial High School, told me that this experience was inspirational for his students.  A lot of them are going to be auditioning for university music programs, and getting a scholarship will be their only chance of going to college.  It was clear that this experience really motivated them to practice and prepare.

I was really moved by the experience.  To be able to give kids access to these amazing artists is a truly remarkable and unique opportunity the Paramount has to offer.

Below are some pictures:

Pictured here are students from East Side Memorial High School and the non-profit Anthropos Arts, an organization that brings professional musicians into Title I schools in Austin and Manor to provide free lessons, master classes, and workshops to students from low-income families.

Pictured here are students from the non-profit Keys of Life.  They work with low-income youth to teach the value of music through M.E.L.O.D.I.E.S. – Motivation, Education, Leadership, Opportunity, Discipline, Individuality, Excellence, and Structure.

Pictured here are students from the music program at Crockett High School, a title I Austin High School.

After the sound check, two members of the band, Joe Temperley and Walter Blanding, talked with the students for about 15 minutes.  My favorite quote from Joe, the man on the left, was, “I got my music training on a greyhound bus.”  He has been touring with the band for 40 years.  They offered not only advice about being a musician, but how to take the skills you learn in music and apply it to all aspects of your life.

The talkback ended with band member Walter Blanding saying, “Well, we have to stop now because we need to make sure we eat dinner before the show.”  However, he stayed for another ten minutes shaking kids’ hands and talking to them about their future.  Just from the picture above, you can see how much the kids admired him and what he had to say.  Before he left he talked to their music teachers and said, “Thank you guys for doing such positive things with these kids.”

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