Young musicians make their mentors proud
Nonprofit that offers private lessons to low-income students puts on concert.
For the students who rocked on stage at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on Sunday night, Anthropos Arts is about more than just music.
The Austin nonprofit group, which provides nearly 100 East Austin middle and high school children with private music lessons, has claimed some big victories during the past few years. All of its seniors graduate from high school, and 80 percent go on to college. Four of them received music scholarships to college this year.
The program, now in its 11th year, had its year-end student and mentor concert Sunday night at the downtown Austin music joint and restaurant. Students and the Austin musicians who teach them played an assortment of jazz and Latin tunes, along with some Taiwanese and Nigerian songs thrown in for good measure.
Anthropos Arts Board Member Aaron Day said the program provides mentoring for students with an interest in music but who can't afford private lessons, as well as an employment opportunity for many Austin musicians who act as teachers.
Those teachers include some big names, including jazz trumpeter Ephraim Owens and Brad Houser , bass player for the New Bohemians.
"These kids mostly come from nonrich monetary backgrounds," Houser said. "For us to have an 80 percent college attendance rate, that's incredible."
Sixteen-year-old Anthony Gilbert , a saxophone and bass player, has been an Anthropos Arts student since he was in the sixth grade. The junior from Eastside Memorial High School said the program keeps getting bigger each year but never gets boring. About 70 students were in the program last year.
"I love how we get to play new and different styles of music," said Gilbert, whose goal is to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. "There's always something new out there."
Dylan Jones , the program's founder and director, said that although Anthropos Arts has grown to include children from seven middle schools and five high schools, the need for private lessons is still tremendous among Austin school district students who are interested in music. It's a question of being able to get financing for the program, he said.
"Ask any great musician — they need that one-on-one," Jones said.