NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - There's a group of school kids who are part of the musical tradition of marching brass bands in New Orleans.
"But I could start them off with the proper learning in the marching band to pass them on to the brass bands," said Derek Tabb of Roots of Music.
Tabb, a drummer in the rebirth brass band helped find the Roots of Music, an after-school program for low-income children. It began in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when funds were cut for elementary and junior high music programs.
"So I wanted to start a program and be like a feeder system to the high schools teaching kids properly, how to play the instrument and then getting them into the next level and this programmed done save way more lives that I could ever save because of the amount of kids that it touched," said Tabb.
Five days a week, the students are bussed to a partially-vacated school in Treme where they get help with homework, a hot meal and then get classroom instruction in music.
"We kind of see that we are using music as a tool," said Anne Messner, Executive Director of the Roots of Music. We want to help kids learn how to be positive, productive, productive individuals and what you do first is find something that conneccts with the kids in the city you live in."
Once a week, the young musicians take to the streets of the Treme neighborhood. They march for a couple of miles, practicing their steps, keeping their lines straight and playing their instruments. It's a routine that has earned them national recognition, college scholarships and a chance for a brighter future.
"It's the sort of thing you want to see kids doing with their free time," said Messner. "You know, you want to see them with a group of other kids embodying like talent and discipline and leadership, all the things that you want and they're just out there in the streets and people are smiling."
"Everybody wants to partyand a brass band is a party from beginning to end. We always say from the womb to the tomb," said Tabb.
The enthusiasm and talent of these young musicians is helping to insure that music remains and important part of the culture of New Orleans.
For more information on the Roots of Music, click here.