About 100 instruments were damaged by the storm, and students fear they will not be able to play this school year
MARRERO, Louisiana – Ida silenced a group from Jefferson Parish Middle School.
The storm struck Marrero College hard and damaged most of their instruments. Now the group manager is now trying to figure out what he can do to bring the music back.
“Hopefully the instruments can be replaced this year,” said Grade 8 student Jaylon Wilson.
The door is locked and for group director Jeremy Williams the silence is deafening. Williams has been the group director for the past ten years. He says he was there when the group was just a few students, but now has over 100 participants.
“The kids here, they just want to play their music, play their instrument. It’s that easy,” he said.
“I was sad,” Wilson said. “Because all the instruments are gone.”
It’s because of Hurricane Ida.
“The school itself suffered damage, cosmetic items, internal water and wind damage, the biggest damage seems to be where the group room was,” Williams said.
Water has entered the room and with the excessive heat and the absence of electricity for days, the majority of what is behind the doors of the group room is now damaged.
“It’s like the perfect recipe for destroying any instrument,” he said. “Right now we’re saying about 90% of the inventory, to throw away a number close to 90 to 100 different types of instruments.”
“It was sad to hear that,” Wilson said. “Knowing that we were using these instruments and now they are gone.”
The group members now meet in a different classroom. However, instead of playing their instruments, they learn music theory. For Wilson, it’s not the same. He says he joined the band after watching the marching bands during carnival, and not playing an instrument is difficult.
“When I play my instrument, my head is clear,” he described. “I just focus on playing my instrument. It’s not as fun as when we had the instruments.”
“When you play a musical instrument that becomes your voice, but you no longer have the instrument, you no longer have your voice,” he said. “You don’t join a group in grade 6 and go through music theory. You sign up so you can play your instrument.”
That’s why he tries to find a way to put the instruments back in the hands of his students. He says that since taking the job he and his wife have done what they can to develop the program and help provide band supplies to the students. Much of it was with his own money. However, replacing an entire fleet of musical instruments is something he cannot do on his own. Yet he does what he can to bring back the music.
“It’s like what you do when you see this,” he said. “There is no time to think that you are taking action.”
Jefferson Parish Public Schools has parish-wide insurance coverage for schools. However, the damage caused by Ida exceeds the amount of coverage available, so donations are encouraged.
If you would like to make a donation, there is an event taking place on Saturday 23 October. It takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Museum from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also contact Williams at [email protected]