Preservation Hall Adapts Free Music Lessons for Students With Disabilities

·2 min read

New Orleans' Preservation Hall has been a cultural stronghold for the better part of a century, honoring jazz and the vibrant community that surrounds it for more than 60 years.

While caretakers of the venue are proud of its storied past, they're also looking towards its future—a future that lies in the hands of the next generation.

Freddie Lonzo - Sensory Friendly Family Day Preservation Hall
Freddie Lonzo - Sensory Friendly Family Day Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall Foundation

Earlier this year, as part of its commitment to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans music traditions, Preservation Hall Foundation unveiled a free series of online of music lessons for K-12 students from all over the world to benefit from.

Preservation Hall Lessons were co-created by the foundation and Preservation Hall musicians and were designed for teachers to use in both digital and in-person settings. The 25 free lesson plans include content focused on introductory and advanced techniques for the instruments in a traditional jazz band, stylistic tips, as well as the cultural and historical context of New Orleans music.

But that was only the beginning. After hosting a free, five-part webinar series for teachers, parents, and music therapists working with students with disabilities in August, the lessons now include adaptation guides for special education and inclusive classrooms.

"These five adaptation documents guide teachers through each lesson plan on the Preservation Hall Lessons platform, through the lens of inclusion and accessibility for students with physical and mental disabilities," the foundation explained in a statement to Southern Living.

The guides were created by webinar panelist Meredith Sharpe, a Neurologic Music Therapist, owner of Sharpe Notes Music Therapy, and adjunct professor of Music Therapy at Loyola University. They include adaptations for non-verbal students, students that use wheelchairs, students that struggle with fine motor skills, and more.

Speaking with WGNO recently, Pamela Blackmon, Preservation Hall Foundation Development Associate, described music as the "universal language," adding that the guides "can be used to connect with people with all types of abilities."

"I was fortunate enough to be born in New Orleans and come from the source. This is the source: New Orleans. Everything comes after that," legendary jazz musician Charlie Gabriel said in a statement. "We were lucky enough to nurse this music here in this city with the old musicians… I didn't know they were making history."

Visit for lessons and more information. You can view Sharpe's guides within each Lesson in the "Instructor Notes" section.

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