Roots in the Schools is our collaborative outreach program aiming to inspire youth through music while fostering arts and cultural appreciation.
By bringing musicians into schools, we expose young people to music through performances, classrooms presentations, workshops, and hands on experience.
Our goal is to promote the creative health of young people, provide them an opportunity to connect with the inspiring world of music.
Our inaugural Roots In The Schools week 2012 was a great success!
On the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday of the week leading up to the festival we arranged for 4 performances in schools across Miami-Dade County. Many many thanks go out to our contact at the school system, Matthew Sabeltella, who enabled us to introduce this program and connect with area schools. We look forward to many school performances to come & spreading the love of music!
Here’s a little re-cap from Sarah Erickson & Sara Waters, our wonderful GrassRoots staff members who attended the shows & wrote these little blurbs about their experience to share with you.
Day 1 – The Rambling String Band at Lorah Park Elementary School
The concert was a reward to kids who had excelled in their studies, and the pride the kids felt at being able to share in the experience was evident by the huge smiles on their faces. Matthew Sabeltella and the Rambling String Band took us on a musical journey through the history of old-time music, from the African origin of the banjo to the rich legacy of civil rights era gospel music. The children got excited as they sang along with tunes like “This Little Light of Mine,” clearly making new connections between music and it’s historical implications. As they Rambling String Band picked up the pace, a teacher towards the back began to dance to the old-time rhythms. It was clear the adults were enjoying the music as much as the children were. The concert was a celebration of the power of music to change the course of history, and as the band played out the story of these children’s rich musical heritage, it’s clear that it continues to do so, even now.
Day 2 – Raffa & Rainer at Flagami Elementary School
Raffa & Rainer were a perfect duo for an elementary school, they’re so positive that the kids took to them instantly. We joked before the curtain went up that they didn’t really have any specifically kid-oriented songs, but something about their sweetness definitely came across to the kids. They giggled when the song mentioned kissing, and wondered when their teacher knew all the words to “I Gotta Brand New Pair of Roller Skates.” There was a group of 4 rambunctious boys that you could tell could easily get into trouble, they started a swaying dance that quickly traveled through the crowd. The kids had great questions about music and about the musicians, especially enamored by Rainer and his guitar collection.
Day 3 – Jacob Jeffries Band at COPE Center North
I walked into this school, like most of them, not knowing Miami at all, not knowing what part of town I was in, and really not knowing what the kids would be like and how they would react to the music. This was one of the most amazing experiences of the whole festival for me. I came in and met up with the band, their managers, and Matthew only to hear that the students would all be girls, 13-20, who were or had been pregnant. The caution that their principal had as the girls poured in actually made me nervous. Like maybe they wouldn’t behave enough to even last through the show. Like maybe I would be afraid of them, or at least not be able to relate to them at all, to the lives they have lived, the difficulties they’d been through in their short existences. But, a girl will love a rock band no matter who she is, especially one with cute boys! They loved it! The band was awesome, just straight up fun, and the girls really let loose. They had great questions, including some that wanted to join the band, to rap, or to sing on stage. When the band closed with Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” there were flashes of recognition and I was impressed by Jacob and Co’s ability to adapt to their audience. Music is music, and these girls were glad to be listening that day. Of course they were glad to get out of class too.
Day 4 – Elastic Bond at Westview Middle School
Today, students at Westview Middle who had done well on their latest tests were rewarded with a special musical treat. The talented and multi-cultural crew of Elastic Bond was so great despite having to show up at a school at 8:30 in the morning. They really embraced their audience immediately and explained the types of music they were going to play before each song: salsa, reggae, etc. They got some kids up on stage with them, not shy to show off their own dancing and musical talents. As I watched the kids line up and be late for their next class in order to get autographs from the band, I could tell this was something they’d remember for a long time.
Everyone involved with Roots in the Schools did a super job; the bands, Matthew, the school staff, and the students themselves. You could tell that the kids were seeing and hearing things they they had never seen before, but also instantly understood and enjoyed. We were welcomed with open arms, in places where “different” might not always seem to be welcomed. Middle school in general is a tough crowd, but music has a way of picking up where “awkward” or “troubled” leave off. It connects us all. It brings smiles to a pregnant teenager. Makes the kids that are “too cool” relax and dance a little. And lets teachers re-live their seventies music memories.