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The Roots of Music

Ani DiFranco is on their board.


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What We Do

The Roots of Music fills a void in music education programs in New Orleans schools. Marching bands were once an integral part of New Orleans middle schools, but many schools discontinued their music programs for this age group after Katrina. Today, The Roots of Music serves over 100 students, making up a full marching band that has successfully paraded the city since Mardi Gras 2009.

Our program provides music history and theory as well as instrumental instruction and ensemble performance preparation. We also provide academic tutoring, mentoring and homework assistance. We serve kids ages 9-14 from low-income households — and to reduce common barriers to participation for this population, we also provide our students with round-trip transportation and a hot meal 5 days a week, 12 months a year.

Participation in The Roots of Music is free for all students. Program hours are Monday through Thursday 4-7pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm. The program is located in the heart of the French Quarter at The Cabildo, a Louisiana State Museum property in Jackson Square.

Program Objectives

  • To keep children off the street
  • To bring children from different parts of the city together
  • To support economic development efforts in the City of New Orleans
  • To develop talent for NOCCA and other intensive music education programs in New Orleans high schools
  • To build a nationally-recognized marching band

Measures of Success

  • The number of students enrolled
  • The program’s retention rates
  • Total hours of instruction
  • Band participation, outreach and competition attendance
  • The number of graduating students enrolled in continuing music education programs
  • Student GPA and GPA improvement


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