Musicians teach new generation at Tipitina’s workshops

By Roberta Grove

Special to The Advocate

Advocate photo by ROBERTA GROVE -- Every band needs a solid percussion section. Seen here from left are Juliette Crosby, John McNally, Ezra Terk and Tess Edwards, who took part in Sunday's music workshop at Tipitina's Uptown.
Advocate photo by ROBERTA GROVE -- Every band needs a solid percussion section. Seen here from left are Juliette Crosby, John McNally, Ezra Terk and Tess Edwards, who took part in Sunday's music workshop at Tipitina's Uptown.

On Sundays, young musicians are taking advantage of one of the best resources in town: Tipitina’s Youth Music Workshops at the club, 501 Napoleon Ave. in Uptown New Orleans.

Musicians Stanton Moore and Johnny Vidacovich created the program back in the 1980s, but the workshops fell off the radar for while after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In recent years, these bimonthly workshops have experienced a resurgence in popularity with families who wish to provide their children with music education opportunities.

This past Sunday, about 26 children gathered at Tipitina’s for a chance to work with some of New Orleans’ most successful professional musicians.

On this day, it was Vidacovich plus jazz trumpeter Wendell Brunious and bass guitarist Chris Severin who guided the kids through a musical jam session.

From the youngest participant who was just 3 years old, to the young adults, it seemed all of the students took something extremely valuable away from their experience. Making music is just fun!

The Tipitina’s Foundation sponsors these youth workshops. The sessions are free and open to youngster of all ages and skill levels.

From jazz to rock, every genre of music is offered.

“Our workshops attract a solid group of local students, but we are also seeing kids on vacation with their families who are dropping in just for the experience,” said Bethany Paulsen, managing director of the Tipitina’s Foundation.

“These workshops serve the dual purpose of mentoring young musicians while preserving Louisiana and New Orleans’ musical heritage,” she said.

Program coordinator Emily Menard stressed the need for more corporate funding to support the music program. Recently Boh Bros. joined the growing list of project sponsors.

The foundation provides a modest compensation for professional musicians who participate in the mentoring program. The nonprofit also provides instruments to children who may not own their own.

All of the music workshops are free of charge for participants, and the public is invited to join in the fun as a member of the audience.

On this visit to Tipitina’s, I spoke with Darlene Poole, whose 4-year-old grandson, Melvin, has been participating in Tipitina’s program since he was 3.

Little Melvin, who also answers to ‘Beanie,’ proudly shared that he wants to be a trombone player once he masters the drums.

Based on my observations, I’d bet he’s got a future in music. Kids like Beanie and 3-year-old Riho Naraoka are developing a lifelong love of music because of their exposure to programs like this one.

To support Tipitina’s Youth Music Program or learn how your child can participate, please visit www.tipitinasfoundation.org.

Sessions are offered bimonthly from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays at Tipitina’s Uptown.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The Advocate New Orleans’ Community News Section. Email information on your upcoming event to robertagrove@hotmail.com.