The purpose of the Freight & Salvage Education Department is to deliver outstanding, hands-on programming which explores traditional music from around the world, celebrates the power of community music-making, and illuminates musical connections between people and cultures.

Everything we do at the Freight & Salvage is rooted in the folk tradition. In the Education Department, we intentionally create programming which explores culture and history as well as technique and repertoire, in an effort to honor and uplift the ways in which music has helped forge and sustain communities over millennia. 

The Freight’s flagship education program PLAYING WITH TRADITION (and its primary initiative Hip-Hop is Folk Music) is designed to illuminate connections between hip-hop and related folk music forms, reclaim lost or hidden narratives, expand the ears of young musicians, and inspire exploration of music traditions from earlier times and various cultures. The 4th grade arm of Playing with Tradition is Golden State of Song, an arts integration program which aims to enhance and enrich California history studies through the vehicle of valuable stories and songs from a multiplicity of cultural traditions. Another initiative, Pulse Check, created in collaboration with the Visual and Performing Arts Department of Berkeley Unified School District , explores the dynamic connections between Carnatic, Afro-Caribbean, and Beatboxing rhythmic traditions. The Freight’s Education Department collaborates closely with BUSD and other organizational partners to develop innovative and impactful experiences for students of all ages.

In 2023 the Education Department launched a new collaboration with our Downtown neighbors at Berkeley City College (BCC), offering cultural events designed as enrichment for BCC students and engagement opportunities for the larger Berkeley community. Our first collaborative events included a Chicano Music History Panel (featuring Mark Guerrero, La Doña, Miguel Govea, and DJ Pulpo), a live beat-making session with LiL MC, performances from actor Lauren Garcia and hip-hop artist Ruby Ibarra.

Our evening classes for adults, which launched in tandem with the opening of our building at 2020 Addison Street, have served thousands of students. Our robust workshop offerings help students dig deep into specific musical skill sets, and our online lectures and pre-show talks offer opportunities for music lovers  to learn more about the people and cultural values behind some of their favorite sounds. Our grassroots choir, the Freight Singers Community Chorus, meets for two sessions every year and culminates with concerts onsite at the Freight. Our long-running jams in various genres continue to be part of the Bay Area’s vibrant roots music scene.

As a whole, our education programming includes everything from folk and jazz to hip-hop, South Indian classical music, and beyond. We believe that working with a multiplicity of traditions gives us all an opportunity to engage with each other directly and build community through music.

The Freight’s education programs and jams are led by teaching artists with decades of classroom and performing experience, and are managed by seasoned musicians/arts education professionals, Director of Education & Community Engagement PC Muñoz and Education Associate Leah Wollenberg.

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