Music Education from Recess to Recording Deals (Sponsored) – Mid-City Messenger

Joshua Starkman speaks to students in Sanaa in 2019. Photo credit: Darrian Douglas

In 2016, professional musicians Darrian Douglas and Gregory Agid were puzzled. New Orleans is a world famous musical city. Why were so many local musicians struggling to make ends meet? They quickly discovered that many artists lacked business skills and too often relied on endless gigs to pay the bills. 88% of musicians surveyed had no exposure to the music industry in high school or college. They decided to change the narrative by founding Second Line Arts Collective, a non-profit music education organization for budding artists to develop their skills and knowledge in the industry.

Every summer since 2017, Second Line Arts Collective has organized the Sanaa Music Workshop, an intensive two-week summer for budding musicians aged 13-23. At Sanaa, students focus on financial literacy, creative marketing, and skills that will lead to career sustainability. Time is set aside each day for combined rehearsals and music lessons. Creators Douglas and Agid learned the importance of these concepts from their mentors Alvin Fielder and Alvin Batiste, renowned jazz artists. Mentoring is therefore naturally at the heart of Sanaa.

“We work with teaching artists who are experienced educators and know the dedication it takes to thrive as artists and entrepreneurs,” says Douglas, “that’s who we are after all, we’re entrepreneurs. “

In 2022, Sanaa welcomed twenty-six student musicians to learn and grow together in June. The workshop ended with a final concert showcasing the hard work of the students. “I’m incredibly proud of these young people,” added Agid, “don’t take my word for it, the music speaks for itself.”

Sanaa 2022 students, teachers and staff

The pandemic has complicated music education at all levels, but Douglas and Agid noticed a significant lack of virtual early music programming in 2020. They developed Little Stompers to help fill the void for schools and parents in the need. Little Stompers introduces K-5 students to the history of jazz and black American music. The program is a culturally relevant and highly engaging introduction to the elements of music (rhythm, melody, common instruments) through the history and celebration of New Orleans music, from Congo Square to Ellis Marsalis.

Final concert of Sanaa 2022

Darrian Douglas and Gregory Agid aren’t just co-directors. They are also co-hosts of Second Line Arts Collective’s The Working Artist Project podcast. TWAP is a long-running interview podcast that shines a light on the daily experience of creatives in all fields, not just music. Douglas and Agid evoke valuable experiences from which listeners can learn about what it means to be a working artist.

The artist project at work

Second Line Arts Collective is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and its programming is funded primarily by individual donations. Visit the website to donate directly and learn more about community initiatives.

Second Line Arts Collective is hosting a free concert in partnership with Hotel Saint Vincent featuring Sanaa graduate Zahria Sims and the Zahria Sims Collective. Come listen to and meet the Second Line Arts Collective team at Hotel Saint Vincent, Thursday September 15 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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