Berklee City Music staff members Arin Canbolat and Andrew Sammut recently returned from visiting four Berklee City Music Network sites, so we invite you to take an inside look at their trip in this four-part series by BCMN registrar Andrew Sammut.
With a roster encompassing the continental United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, site visits are a welcome opportunity for City Music staff to skip the smartphone and speak directly with the people who make the Network possible. Last week Arin and Andrew were fortunate to tour City Music’s southeastern region, beginning with 2xSalt Ministry in Charlotte, NC.
Founded in 2003, 2xSalt brings together youth through community gatherings, athletic programming and of course music education. Our visit began with a warm welcome from 2xSalt board member Alan Barnes, who took us on a tour of 2xSalt’s main facilities. In addition to its full size basketball court, community cafeteria, Thrift Shoppe and mechanical engineering lab, 2xSalt offers music students the opportunity to record in their own studio, study PULSE in a computer lab and jam in a beautiful, welcoming performance space. 2xSalt joined City Music shortly after adding music to its broad range of programs in 2012. It has been both rewarding and informative to observe the growth of this site’s musical resources and more importantly its student base.
After music instructor Eric Brice joined us, we drove to some of the nearby schools attended by 2xSalt students. We listened in on a jazz band jamming over “Footprints,” smiled at the sight of three trumpeters and a sousaphonist using their lunch period to practice, and talked with another student who just completed their audition for the City Music Summer Scholarship. We also met some of the local band directors who support 2xSalt. President and founder Bart Kofoed and 2xSalt music teacher Randy Johnson then joined us for lunch, sharing their experiences and hopes for West Charlotte’s students. With music programming in many schools reduced or cut from the curriculum, Alan and Eric emphasized their eagerness to bring in more students and allow them the opportunity to learn music.
As students began arriving back at 2xSalt stage to begin playing after school, the importance as well as sheer joy of that mission was palpable. From a swinging blues jam through Freddie Hubbard’s famously difficult “Red Clay” to a very Herbie Hancock-esque original composition by one of the 2xSalt students, it was clear that these young musicians not only enjoy playing but that music animates and empowers them. The opportunity to meet and talk with those students as well as their teachers, parents and the dedicated leadership at 2xSalt was a great beginning for this trip!