Smalls Institute co-founder Nathanial Smalls Jr. offers a student in Murray-Lasaine Elementary’s Kaleidoscope program some personal insight into the workings of the bass guitar. Parked in the background is the group’s newly completed Mobile Music Lab
Magic Music Bus
Smalls Institute hits the road in newly minted Mobile Music Lab
By Charlie Morrison
The ancient African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” has been rooted in life here on once-isolated James Island for generations. In these days of miniscule public spending, the phrase and what it represents has never been so important. And some people are stepping up to fill the void here on James Island. Smalls Institute for Music and Youth Leadership co-founders Sherry and Nathanial Smalls are two of those people. The organization got a boost last week, when they announced the completion of the Smalls Mobile Music Lab. The group purchased and retrofitted a small tour bus, turning it into a mobile music classroom for transporting both students and instruments to the various schools they frequent.
The Smalls institute purchased the vehicle, a 2000 Ford E450 designed to carry 26 passengers, last summer. They completed some alterations to the interior over the next couple of months and had it up and running by the end of the year. The organization has since entered into partnerships with two area schools and their respective after school programs, including Murray-LaSaine Elementary Kaleidoscope program, which the Mobile Lab visits each Wednesday and Friday afternoon.
In retrofitting the bus, nearly all of the two dozen seats inside the vehicle were removed. In the final step, graphics company Mr. Sign of Summerville worked pro-bono to put logos and images all over the vehicle, some for marketing purposes, some for the kids. What was once a travel bus with no personality now has the look of a massive musical ice cream truck.
Organization co-founder Sherry Smalls beams with appreciation for the efforts of Mr. Sign, as well as ongoing partner Paisano’s Pizza. “If it wasn’t for Paisano’s we just wouldn’t be where we are right now,” she says. “This has been a big process to get this thing up and running, but with their support and our Super Tuesday events at Paisano’s, we were able to do this.”
For more information on the Smalls Institute or the Mobile Music Lab, go to www.SmallsMusicLab.org. The group’s next Paisano’s Pizza Grill Super Tuesday event will be held May 15, and will include a performance by current students at 6:30 p.m.