Founded in 2005 by Trahey and trombone player Garrett Mendez, the Archipelago Project brings musical training to kids across the country. The concept grew out of work Trahey began during his undergraduate years at Peabody through an outreach program in the public schools.
“I started to find out that music education, specifically public school education, was lacking a lot of things,” Trahey says. “I wanted to change that energy and show that these instruments are very versatile. These are orchestral instruments, but they can be played all over the place for all kinds of different people.”
Archipelago now offers several programs, including master classes and outreach performances and workshops within public schools around the country. Trahey and the trained musicians work within a school’s band program for a week to develop a performance where the professionals and the amateurs play together. “If you are a violinist and you sit next to great violinists, you automatically are going to get better,” Trahey says. “Playing with professionals makes you better.”
Archipelago also offers in-house residencies for young musicians over the summer months. A program for economically disadvantaged elementary school students, called Twelve Trumpets, brings music to Michigan students who have never played an instrument before. Over their two weeks at Archipelago headquarters, the students are immersed in instrumental music. Many of the participants could not have afforded private music lessons. “It gives kids who don’t have cash an opportunity to play an instrument,” Trahey says. “It also shows parents that these kids can play.” About half the participants go on to play a band instrument after they leave, Trahey reports.
He estimates that some 5,000 kids have been through the in-house program since its inception, and thousands more have participated through school programs across the country and in Europe. In addition to traveling with the Archipelago Project, Trahey serves as the educational programming and outreach event director for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. For four years, he has presented to over 30,000 children. Trahey also maintains his connection to Baltimore, working with the Music Teacher Mentoring Program operated by the Peabody Preparatory. He assists band teachers in cash-strapped urban schools with creating and managing band programs.
Trahey may be among the hardest working musicians today. But you would never know it to watch the sheer joy on stage during that performance of The Chicken.