The National Museum of African American Music in Nashville decided to celebrate Black History Month by encouraging local residents to become participants in a program that is designed to help local college students learn about the music business while educating the public about the social contributions of African American music during the month of February.
The National Museum of African American Music joined forces with Nissan USA to help Nashville citizens get involved with the museum with the presentation of ‘Fine Tuning: A Masterclass Series,’ a program initiative that is focused on educating students who are studying music at local Historic Black Colleges and Universities. Students who participated in the Fine Tuning program learned from a Masterclass instructor the fundamentals of music business such as songwriting techniques, production techniques, career management, and financial literacy. Fine Tuning: A Masterclass series, sponsored by Nissan, featured award-winning record producers Lawrence ‘Boo’ Mitchell and Just Blaze. Brandon Reid, senior educational manager for NMAAM, said the NMAAM wanted the Fine Tuning program to be focused on local college students and to make sure the young and emerging musicians were engaged and involved in the program.
Reid said that when it comes to engaging with aspiring musicians, the key is establishing a connection with schools such as Belmont University and Tennessee State University. Reid said that the Fine Tuning program helps with establishing connections by 1) developing a concept, 2) finding an instructor, and 3) letting students know about the available opportunities the museum has. He also said the partnership with companies such as Nissan started before the opening of the museum in 2021 by partnering with local schools, colleges and universities which helped in establishing those relationships. Reid said the response to the Fine-Tuning program was very positive.
“It has been great. We had a good response for session 1 and for session 2,” said Reid. “A lot of the students that participated in session 1 got a chance to ask ‘Boo’ Mitchell and Just Blaze some really in-depth questions and take that knowledge and come back for session 2 to create their own beats—to get feedback and increase their production skills.”
Reid said the collaboration with Nissan was organized with the intent on bringing in Mitchell and Just Blaze for the Fine-Tuning project, with Nissan wanting to create a program that was specifically designed for students studying music at local HBCUs. Tamar Smithers, senior director of education and public programs at NMAAM, said the partnership with Nissan for the Fine Tuning series has been very beneficial.
“The Fine Tuning: Masterclass Series provides a unique opportunity to collaborate with our neighbors at Tennessee State and Fisk Universities, as well as American Baptist College,” said Smithers. “Nashville is home to thousands of students with music industry goals, and I am thankful to our friends at Nissan for helping dreams become reality.”
The Fine Tuning series in February comes as the NMAAM celebrated its one-year anniversary. In a video statement, NMAAM President/CEO Henry Beecher Hicks talked about welcoming over 100,000 visitors and famous recording artists such as Earth, Wind, and Fire; H.E.R.; Garth Brooks; and Bobby Brown. According to a press release, NMAAM hosted its inaugural Black Music Month celebration on Juneteenth weekend of 2021 where guests experienced a museum dedication, Black Music Summit and the annual Celebration of Legends honoring Music celebrities such as Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan.