Black Girls Play Secures Three-Year Funding from Novo Foundation
It was nearly midnight on a school night, and eighth-grader and pianist Ariel Moore was sitting inside the recording studio at Zoo Labs in Oakland, learning about the ins and outs of the music recording process.
"It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of focus and long nights in the studio," Moore said. "It's not as easy as it seems and it may be fun, but it takes a long time and a lot of effort and work to get there."
This is the kind of hands-on, experiential learning that happens at Black Girls Play, a free, holistic music education program for Black girls and women, offered through the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music since 2017. The conservatory, which recently moved to the former California Hotel, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 that offers music lessons, ensembles, and workshops focused on African-American music traditions to youth and adults alike. All of the conservatory's music programs are available to Black Girls Play participants at no cost. But Black Girls Play, once it's fully established, also will offer participants a host of other opportunities. Participants will take weekly private lessons on an instrument of their choice, play in the Black Girls Play ensemble, and learn firsthand from industry mentors about various aspects of the music industry, from stage management to sound engineering to arts administration — all taught by Black women whenever possible.
Black Girls Play is the brainchild of the conservatory's founding director, Angela Wellman, a trombonist, academic, educator, and third-generation jazz musician from Kansas City. Wellman said Black Girls Play was partly inspired by Monique W. Morris's Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, which details the ways that educational institutions unjustly treat Black girls...