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Program offers at-risk students basses, tubas

November 11, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brass musicians have sustained New Orleans culture for generations, and the Preservation Hall Foundation aspires to maintain that culture through a new program that offers instruments to the city’s underserved youth.

The foundation’s Sousafund program is designed to help young students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged to obtain basses and tubas to use in school music programs. The program was established in March after Ben Jaffe, son of Preservation Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, had his sousaphone stolen.

Fortunately, Jaffe recovered his tuba in March. Jaffe said in a released statement that many people offered to replace his horn after he lost it, which inspired him to harness that “heartfelt enthusiasm to put instruments into the hands of aspiring musicians.”

“One of the challenges for aspiring bass and tuba players is the cost of professional quality instruments. It is oftentimes a barrier to pursuing their dreams,” Jaffe’s Oct. 18 statement said.

The foundation stated instruments will be loaned to the students free of charge for as long as they continue to play. Those who receive donated instruments are responsible to pay for any repairs or adjustments as needed. The foundation will retain ownership of the instrument while it is being used, but the instrument ownership is passed on to the student if the student decides to pursue a career in music, which includes applying to music schools across the country.

The application is open to students in grades six through 12 who live in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Students will have to check in with the foundation quarterly, which may include photos of the student performing on their instrument and invitations to concerts at their school.

Preservation Hall Foundation was launched in 2011 with the goal of creating greater awareness and appreciation for the city’s tradition of jazz and the communities that support it, the foundation stated. The organization works with school administrators and music directors in the city to identify students in need of basses and tubas. In a statement, foundation program director Ashley Shabankareh stressed the foundation “is committed to supporting the next generation of musicians.”

The application will ask students for permission for the Foundation to contact the “proper entities” to determine if the student is eligible for an instrument. This means the foundation will check the status of the child’s eligibility for free or reduced school lunch programs. The application also asks students if they receive assistance from Section 8 Housing, the Women, Infants, and Children program and other programs that students might participate in. The Foundation states it’s using this information “to establish financial need of its Sousafund recipients.”

Students can apply for the instrument online. Instrument donations are limited due to funding, and the application deadline is Dec. 3. Residents can find more information at the foundation’s website.

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