Two months ago, in August, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida made landfall. Many homes were torn apart, leaving families with no choice but to leave and not return. Schools were affected, and businesses suffered due to the record winds from Hurricane Ida.
The damage left behind was incredibly overwhelming. The trash in front of homes can still be seen in different areas. If you take the time to ride around the city, you will see blue tarps on the roofs of houses. In March 2020, COVID-19 slowly but surely became widespread and forced schools to endure what came with it. This school year, Hurricane Ida affected L.H. Marrero Middle School's band heavily. The entire instrument inventory was, sadly, damaged.
Jeremy Williams, director of the school's band, said that New Orleans and the surrounding areas are known for their indigenous music worldwide. There are three main things people visit this city for: the music, the food, and Mardi Gras. If you know anyone who doesn't at least care for Mardi Gras, you might want to check their temperature.
The pandemic has not gone away just because of a hurricane. We're still living during this devastation. The music world has suffered a great deal because of COVID. Williams expressed that not only did the pandemic affect all of our lives and our city, but a natural disaster has also swept in and created more damage. COVID-19 restrictions have been limiting bands on what they can do. Now, the hurricane is the latest setback for the community. This community thrives on music and the education thereof. The band may not be able to belt out any sounds right now, but they won't be silent for long.
Williams and his band are currently trying to gather as many resources and musical instruments as they possibly can. The community, along with the band, are calling out to those who are able to help during this time. Williams says that in a band, "our voices" are our instruments. There is a strong need for you to check with any family and friends who would help find resources and instruments for music to stay alive. To Williams, it's not about him or the band. He is aware that the community, our home, and our culture are what's most important. We can't hear that local New Orleans brass band music unless they have their instruments.
Living in the city, music naturally goes along with any activity: music festivals, parades, second lines, you name it! The youth is one group that gets into the music the most. For Williams, teaching them music is also teaching life. The skills that are needed to succeed in a band are the same ones that are required to succeed in life. Children and young adults need direction. They need something that will motivate them to do what is correct and acceptable. They get that by being part of a band. When kids are part of a team in general, they learn the values of teamwork, discipline, self-confidence, and working toward a common goal. Many activities and programs need the support of the community for survival. Some band members of the school go home to visible damages to their homes. Think about what could be going on through their minds knowing that not only are their homes in shambles, but they don't have an instrument to play. Williams is set to make something shake for his band. He loves what he does and refuses to see the kids he teaches suffer. There isn't a doubt in Williams' mind that with the community's help, they will become stronger than ever.
According to Williams, Marrero Middle School band is a very strong and highly developed program. The program has a concert band, marching band, New Orleans brass band, brass ensemble, and woodwind ensemble. Their success has opened doors for them to compete and will undoubtedly lead them to glory.
If anyone would like to contribute to the band program, contact Jeremy Williams at Jeremy.Williams@jpschools.org
Any donations can be sent to the following address:
Attention: Jeremy Williams
Marrero Middle School Band
L.H.Marrero Middle School
4100 Seventh St.
Marrero, Louisiana 70072
Instruments that were damaged due to Hurricane Ida:
Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, F-Attachment Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, Tuba, Sousaphone
Marching Percussion and Marching Drum Carriers: (Snares with carriers, Bass Drum with carriers, Tenors with carriers, Cymbals,) Drum Set
Concert Percussion: Snare drum, bass drum, practice pads, snare stands for practice pads, Keyboard and amp