Doyle “Red” Cooper knows the true spirit of being a jazz musician in New Orleans. As a senior at both New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School, his love for music is evident in his passion for teaching music.
Cooper is involved in several organizations that provide musical instruction to young students. Every Saturday morning, he volunteers at Music for All Ages in the Historic National Jazz Park. “(It) was the first program I was involved in and it fueled my passion for the cultural tradition of jazz that was born in this city,” he says. “This is why this was one of my favorite programs.”
He is also a student teacher for the Young Leadership Council’s Project Prodigy. Each summer, Cooper volunteers four weeks of his summer vacation to teach trumpet to fifth-graders. This exciting volunteer opportunity allows him to help mold and teach the city’s youngest musical students.
Even though Cooper learns from many of the master musicians in New Orleans, he enjoys being able to teach the young musicians as well. “Some of the students are beginners and when they ‘master’ something or hit the right note, the look on their faces is worth all the time I spend with them.”
Cooper’s mother has been a great help in his activism in New Orleans. Four years ago he formed the Red Hot Brass Band, a traditional brass band comprised of young music students. The band participates in benefits and fundraisers for the Easter Seals, Goodwill, NOCCA, the Kidney Foundation, Tulane’s Hospital for Children and many others. Sometimes the band plays to raise money for these organizations, but other times they play to help the patrons forget their troubles.
“I would have to say that I’m most privileged to play recently for an event for the Operation Smile foundation,” Cooper says. “I see the work they do first-hand. The bass drummer in my band is an Operation Smile kid. He has had about 30 surgeries and has come so far. It was truly a chance to give back. It was the least I could do for such a great organization.”
Cooper has the unusual hobby of growing his hair long to donate to Locks of Love; he has done so twice since 2005. He is also a recipient of The Youth Change Maker Award from Operation Reach and was a national finalist for the Youth Diversity award given by the American Federation of Musicians. Cooper plans to study music education when he goes to college.