Charles W. (“Chuck”) Staab III, from New Jersey, was a Music major who is also a highly regarded professional jazz drummer. He juggled his education and his profession during the four years of college. Chuck got very enthusiastic
recommendations from two mentors who knew him and his talents very well:
his thesis advisor (“one of the most talented students that I have encountered in my eighteen years of teaching at Princeton”) and a Dean of the Chapel (“There are many gifted students at Princeton, and Chuck is among the finest. However, not all of them have been as consistently committed as he has to using his talents in service of others.”)
What Chuck did during the Fellowship – and what he had been doing at Princeton – was to work with disadvantaged young people using the medium of music. The sponsor was MIMA Music Spin Jazz, a non-profit started by a Princeton graduate,
Christoph Geiseler, to provide free music lesson programs in underserved communities. The chair of the Princeton Music Department expressed his enthusiasm about the programs of the organization (“hugely successful as arts education and community support ventures”).
Chuck used (and tailored, when appropriate) a curriculum he had developed, both to teach and to help guide other undergraduate volunteers he recruits to teach music to grade school children from Philadelphia schools, for whom such instruction is otherwise unavailable. He was doing this in Trenton his senior year, about which the Dean said: “I have seen him in action and it really is a wonder to see how he
orchestrates what might be chaos (20 kids with instruments) into a wonderful (if
unorthodox) symphony of expression. It is a beautiful and powerful event to behold.
One look at the faces of the children is all one needs to be convinced that important
things are happening.”
Class of 2007
With the help of the Reach Out Fellowship, Chuck was able to bring free, weekly after-school music lessons to children from underserved populations in Trenton and Philadelphia. In the year after his graduation from Princeton, as many as 40 young
students per week took part in small group instruction and informal musical play. To reach this many children, Chuck recruited, trained, and offered MIMA Music teaching internships to college students from Princeton, The College of New Jersey, The
University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University.
In Chuck’s words, “The New Jersey music classes took place at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton, NJ in conjunction with a more comprehensive after-school program called GET SET. The GET SET program in Trenton was incredibly well run and found great success meeting a comprehensive set of needs demonstrated by the youth population including free breakfasts before school and homework tutoring. The Philadelphia music classes took place in North West Philadelphia in conjunction with the KidZone program. This program was inspiring to observe because they operated from a more holistic environment, incorporating family and community members whenever possible.
“Both sections of after-school music lessons were very well received and universally regarded as positive by the participating students, MIMA Music college interns, and the staff of the respective after-school programs.”
Robert Baker, a teaching intern from Temple University, recently reached out to Chuck to inform him that he has decided to dedicate himself to inner city arts education because of his experiences working with youth in Philadelphia through the program Chuck began.
MIMA music is still active as both a student group at Princeton University and after school educational program in Trenton, NJ. Since his fellowship ended in 2008, Chuck has been working as drummer and musical director for Universal/Verve recording artist, Melody Gardot. Much of his time is spent on tour, playing concerts and music festivals all over the world. In the fall/winter of 2010-2011, Chuck returned to Princeton to work with the Princeton University Jazz Vocal Collective under the direction of Dr. Anthony Branker. He is currently working with Gardot on her forthcoming release in Los Angeles, California.