Abrams’s Kids :: A New Generation

In 2015 the LO launched a new youth leadership mentoring program designed for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing a career in the arts; Abrams’ Kids. The program meets monthly with up to 15 high school juniors and seniors with Music Director Teddy Abrams and LO Director of Education Deanna Hoying to discuss careers in the arts as well as provide opportunities for students to attend rehearsals, meet guest artists and job shadow.

In 2016, a new service component was added as we felt the next evolution in the program was for students to connect their art with their community. Students can partner together or work individually to create an arts service project to be completed before the end of their school year.

Here are just a few of their projects for 2016/17:

  • New Albany High School – Silken Strings performed on February 7th to commemorate Black History Month at a local church that has an integrated history with the Underground Railroad. The night was the first night the church reopened its doors to the public after its renovation. The program included the Battle Hymn of the Republic, American Hymn, an arrangement of Largo from Dvořák’s Symphony No.9, and an arrangement of Kumbaya. “From this project, I learned that the community will come together to celebrate history when it is an important part of our culture. Also that pulling together a program is easy as long as everyone is definitely committed to attending. I really enjoyed this instance in volunteering, and I believe that the church is aiming to make this an annual event.”
  • Ballard High School – “Flexin’ my Complexion” At Ballard High School, students have taken refuge in the African American Literature class. Those students learn about literature written by African American writers, taught by teacher Teresa Hinkle-Jones. However, they also become a part of the safe community, discovering their voices in writing and in the community. Through in-class projects, poetry slams, showcases, community service, and school politics, the group uses their voices to make a change. Once the teacher Teresa Hinkle-Jones heard of the African Smithsonian museum opening in Washington D.C. she knew she had to bring her passionate students. To help fundraise for the trip, the students decided to put together an Arts Showcase for the dynamic talents of the students. They showcased poetry, photography, baking, performing, and so much more. Together, the students raised enough money to start the journey but were far from their goal. So they started fundraising even harder; from selling candles, ramen, and through bake sales, to setting up donation accounts. In January, still far from where they needed to be (and the trip was only a few weeks away) they decided to go back to square one and hosted a second showcase–during school on February 10th. The cost was $2 per student. The performers (from all over Ballard) showcased their voices through poetry, dancing, step dance, spoken word, as much more. The showcase was an incredible success and raised more than $2,000. My goal had been to motivate my peers to share their art with others and to break any stereotypes by being true to myself. I helped put together showcases not only to raise money but to give the opportunity for teens to perform for others (who wouldn’t see it otherwise). As a result, many students were moved by the showcases and began to ask questions about music, dance, etc. Arts awareness is now the talk of the school.
  • Youth Performing Arts School – For the Abrams’ Kids service project, we plan to entertain (piano and vocal music) the residents of the Sunrise of Louisville Retirement Community. The music performed will be appropriate for the residents in the home, as it will be a mix of classical and music from the residents’ generation. This brief recital would be close to an hour in length, and if allowed, we will provide light refreshments to the residents. This project is a satisfying way for us to promote the arts community and provide music to the public.
  • Floyd Central High School – After ensemble competitions, it’s rare that students have the opportunities to perform these works for family and friends. So we will be hosting an ensemble performance after ensemble competition to play for friends and family.
  • Floyd Central High School – I plan to do some work with my Scout troop for my Eagle award to modify an empty room at Floyd Central into a multipurpose, intimate performance space for use by soloists, small ensembles, speakers, etc.
  • New Albany High School – My project will involve me visiting the nursing facilities my aunt and uncle work in and playing piano for the residents during their meal times and or for their church services. I expect a positive outcome and a way to connect with people who may not normally be able to connect with others.

A remarkable group of young people giving back to their community through art!