Engage Tuscaloosa’s noteABLE program

A University of Alabama junior brings a music program back into elementary schools.

By Keldrin Palmer
News Reporter

TUSCALOOSA —School gets out at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons at Holt Elementary School. Children take to their buses and car pools home, but two dozen or so fourth- and fifth-grade students stay behind. They make their way to the library where one more lesson plan full of music awaits them. The students are all a part of an after-school program geared toward introducing them to music.

Olivia Gevedon, a junior anthropology major on a pre-med track at the University of Alabama, is the co-founder of the after-school program noteABLE. This program is a chance for kids to get exposed to music at an early age through basic music theory lessons and learning to play the recorder.

Grevedon, born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, grew up playing music. She was introduced to the recorder in the second grade, which led her to joining the school band and learning clarinet.

Unfortunately, when Gevedon began college at the University of Alabama, she lost much of her spare time to commit to her hobby. After meeting co-founder Trey Sullivan, the duo decided to begin looking for an outlet for their talents.

“It was just sad,” Gevedon said. “After playing music every day for so many years, it became a huge part of my life. I used it as a stress reliever and an emotional outlet. I knew it wasn’t going to be a career for me, but it was something I enjoyed doing in my free time, and now I had no free time to do it.”

Gevedon remembers speaking to Sullivan, a former piano performance major who is majoring in international studies, as a freshman and trying to figure out a way they could use their skills from their past lives. 

“We might as well not keep it to ourselves, especially if it’s a need in the community,” Gevedon said.

The two began calling local elementary schools and found that many systems had no sort of music program in place at the elementary level and that some had no programs offered to students until high school. 

Gevedon and Sullivan began working toward creating a program that could open a door for children who might not otherwise consider music in their lives.

“We wanted to teach them an instrument if possible,” Gevedon said. “I knew that’s what made me want to join the band when I got to middle school and I definitely wouldn’t have otherwise. The least we could do is expose them to it. Let them know it’s an option and if they like it, they can continue learning more.”

The team started working on plans in the Fall of 2017. By Spring they had teamed up with Engage Tuscaloosa, which helped with funding, supplies and school placements.

“By the time they came to us and began explaining their idea and plan of action, they had already done all of the legwork. They just needed our network,” coordinator of educational outreach Vicki Holt said.

They began with one program at Mathews Elementary, which has turned into four programs across Tuscaloosa city and county schools due to increased interests and popularity. The Boys and Girls Club of Tuscaloosa is even contacting noteABLE, hoping to get the program integrated in to their activities.