A popular trumpet player and composer in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and Founder of Trumpets4Kids Foundation which allows him to give away instruments to kids in need.
Like an arborist plants trees so future generations will have shade, Freddie Jones plants music so future generations will have a soundtrack for life. Right now, music surrounds you. When you walk into church, there’s music. When you go to a restaurant, there’s music. When a bride walks down the aisle, when you watch a movie, when you attend a sporting event, and when you go shopping music plays in the background. Music expresses something words alone cannot, and Freddie doesn’t want that expression to go away.
Freddie uses a trumpet to express what he’s feeling so other people can relate. For him, the trumpet is “…the only instrument that connects our lives and affects our lives in ways we don’t actually think about.” In the Bible, trumpets started wars and ended wars. Trumpets make announcements. A trumpet plays Taps when somebody dies. Trumpets proclaim a king’s arrival. Trumpets start horse races. In Tibet, trumpets signal the beginning of a time of meditation. It is one of the only instruments to cross cultural and time boundaries.
People with passion can’t help but to act on their passion. For Freddie Jones, that passion is music, specifically jazz. He composes music, records music, and plays with his band whenever they get the chance. He’s played his trumpet overseas, at corporate events, as part of the Fort Worth Library Jazz Preservation Project, at clubs, and most Dallas Cowboy football games. Currently he has four CDs released. But all that still isn’t enough to release all of his passion. He needs other people to play music, too. So he gives trumpets to kids.
“Music is important right now, " Jones said with a faraway look in his eye. I wondered if this African American man was thinking about Ferguson and the racial tensions in America, about how much this country needs something that can cross cultural barriers.
If he was, he didn’t say. “Music is important to give to kids because if we don’t, it’s going to go away."
“If we take [music] away, we take 25% of our life away without even knowing it. I think it’s wonderful [to have] accountants, architects, salespeople, and all of those things. But if you take the musician away, that’s another thing.”
When we met, Freddie Jones was preparing to give a speech in another town about adding Arts to the popular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educational push. Adding Arts would make it STEAM. Not only does Freddie value music, but he also values what music contributes to overall education.
“If a kid is reading music, he can read a math book. If a kid can memorize a song for all-region music, he can memorize a poem for English class or the law to become a lawyer. Kids who learn to read music improve their math scores.”
Yet many schools and districts continue to cut funding to the arts programs.
The education goes beyond the classroom. “You want violence to stop? Give 200 kids in a neighborhood an instrument. Only thing they’ll be fighting over is who [makes] first chair or who’s going to the concert. And they’ll make friends that they’ll keep forever.”
Kids, people in general, make music with what’s available to them. Everywhere in the world, in every culture, even in the forest, there’s music. “Hispanic kids are playing mariachi music. Europeans play European music… Bach, Beethoven, etc. And the black kids are playing nothing, because they don’t have any instruments. So we’re learning rap and creating music based on what we have in our neighborhood.”
“For me giving a trumpet to a kid is almost vital. Because if I don’t do it, who’s going to do it? I’m worried that some kid who could actually be an amazing musician and write some stuff we’ve never heard won’t have an instrument to develop on.”
So Freddie gives trumpets to kids. His foundation, Trumpets 4 Kids, is seven years old. Freddie has interviewed each trumpet recipient personally, requiring each one to agree to certain terms (go to class, give the horn to the music program if they decide to quit playing, etc.) before officially transferring ownership. Students receive trumpets for one or more of the following reasons:
- A child wants to be in band but can’t afford to be.
- If there is a gifted child who has problems and music could help alleviate those problems, rich or poor, the foundation will give them a trumpet.
- A kid can be nominated if he/she needs a place to belong; a trumpet opens doors to band.
The goal is to give away 15 trumpets each year, but there isn’t really any stable funding. For the past seven years, Trumpets 4 Kids has given kids the gift of music through the generosity of donors, special deals on trumpets from Freddie’s friends in the music business, people donating their own instruments, a couple of grants from the Fort Worth Arts Council, and with Freddie’s own money.
Trumpets 4 Kids has provided trumpets to students at Northside High School, Polytech, James Middle School, and the B Sharp Youth Music Program in Como. While the vast majority of trumpets find their home with students in Fort Worth, other recipients hail from Bedford, Grapevine, Carrollton, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Italy. “We want to be worldwide in hopes of bringing trumpet players here from other places,” Freddie explained when I asked about the international gift.
Those trumpets have changed the trajectory of kids’ lives, and the stories are multiplying. Freddie told me about a homeless kid who got a trumpet in middle school and ended up going to college. He’s attending a conservatory in South Carolina and sent Freddie a picture of himself with famous trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
He told me about a suicidal sophomore who could only play two scales when Freddie gave him the trumpet. Before relinquishing the horn, Freddie asked him, “If I give you this horn, are you going to play through the rest of high school?” The kid said he would. Two years later, he made All-State Band and went to college on a full ride.
But Freddie’s hero is a young girl who overcame serious psychological challenges with the help of music. Before she got the trumpet, she missed a lot of school. In middle school at the time, she had to commit to Freddie that she wouldn’t be absent so much if he gave her the horn. According to a school counselor, the girl never missed another day of school all the way through graduation.
Music changes lives. Freddie knows that. Like a farmer planting a seed, he watches the gift of music grow in the lives of kids to see how it will affect the planet. If you want to help him sustain the soundtrack of our lives by helping him the gift of music, visit Trumpets4Kids.com.
If you want to be inspired to pick up the instrument you’ve neglected for too long and contribute your own melody to life, have a conversation with Freddie Jones. It worked for me.
Look for Freddie at BREWED most mornings, drinking his favorite latte while brainstorming on the location he'll plant his next melody.
by Tiffany Marshall