In 1995, Eddie
Dejean instigated the first non-profit music program in New Orleans,
within special schools. The aims of the program were to introduce physically and mentally challenged
children to the theraputic effects of music.
In The Pocket lasts one afternoon and involves local musicians
playing. It also encourages audience participation. Dejean explains, "Music therapy is a useful tool to calm, soothe and relax
the children. I want them to be exposed to some of the different types of music."
Ashe Middle School - where Dejean teaches music part-time - was the first school to witness In The Pocket.
Forty-five children watched performances by local musicians including: James Rivers - a bagpipes and flute R&B musician;
Michael Ray - trumpet player from Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe, Porgy Jones - another trumpet player and vocalist Jonta
The children recited poetry and displayed art work and the school
orchestra played the National Anthem in an event which was an overwhelming success. The principal rescheduled the event for
the following year.
Dejean’s motivation was his realisation that local children
had no concept of Jazz - an important part of their heritage - and had no knowledge of how to act respectfully for a situation
such as this. The venture was christened during one of Ray and Dejean’s brainstorming sessions. In the Pocket,
Ray’s description of Dejean’s musical style, refers to his strong and steady style of playing.
Dejean’s background and present day profession is as a teacher in special schools. He trained as a teacher
for the mentally and physically handicapped in the University of Hawaii 1979, and taught first during the summer of 1990 in Belle Chasse. He has since taught
at Delgado and Abramson.
In The Pocket will be visiting local schools next year. Dejean’s dream is to
have this show available to the whole North American school system. In the meantime his advice to the kids is, "Stay in school.
Don’t break the rules, and be Cool".