Students from Weber’s Band Program traveled to Asheville, NC, for an innovative three-day music immersion trip. Led by Music Program Director Drew Cohen and with help from Weber teacher (and cymbal player extraordinaire) Jessica Doble, students had the opportunity to learn from and play with local musicians and visit some of the city's iconic musical sites.
The trip, the first of its kind for the music program, kicked off with a workshop at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, where students collaborated and played with Queens-based musical duo a glassy ruckus (Jesse Greenberg and Naeemah Maddox), who performed pieces inspired by Yiddish animal folk tales. The day ended with a visit to the Moogseum, a museum that brings synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog's legacy to life with interactive timelines, exhibits, and experiences.
The following day, students immersed themselves in African Drumming and Songwriting workshops at LEAF Global Arts Experience, where students had the opportunity to work with West African drummer Adama Dembele and songwriter Melissa McKinney. Reflecting on his experience, senior Dawson Sherman said, "Our time at LEAF was instrumental in expanding my creative mindset and breaking down mental barriers. It allowed me to open up my creative process to others, sharing ideas more freely without fear of judgment. The people we collaborated with were incredibly down-to-earth and easy to work with."
After their experience at LEAF, students continued their musical journey with a tour of the Moog Factory. There, they explored the engineering and artistry behind the renowned Moog sound, with access to play every available Moog synthesizer while chatting with the skilled artisans who crafted the synthesizers. To cap off the day, the students enjoyed a private concert and jam session with The Change, a funk band comprised of young yet established musicians who are committed to making a difference through their music with an empowerment message focusing on mental health, suicide prevention, and kindness.
The jam-packed trip wrapped up with a reunion with musician Billy Jonas, who visited Weber students at the beginning of the school year in August 2022. In an interactive workshop, students learned songs, participated in embodied music and movement activities, and engaged in "bangin and sangin" – a unique aspect of Jonas's performances.
Not only were the planned activities an integral part of the experience, but carefully designed downtime, where students engaged in cooking, sharing meals, and fostering connections with their peers, played a significant role. These intentional community-building opportunities were seamlessly woven into the trip, ensuring the young musicians developed lasting bonds with one another.
The hands-on, interactive approach taken during this trip, where students collaborate and play with talented artists, is one of many unique Music Program offerings launched in anticipation of Weber's new Music and Performing Arts Center. Currently under construction, the center will feature a state-of-the-art theater, rehearsal space, recording studio, dance studio, music studio, and a builder's workshop for stage design and production. The center will elevate Weber's productions while serving as a valuable resource for students and the Atlanta Jewish community.