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Meet Tanisha Hall of White Hall Arts Academy in South LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tanisha Hall.

The White Hall Arts Academy (WHAA) is a performing and visual arts education facility in South Los Angeles. Founded in 2011, by Berklee College of Music alumna Tanisha Hall, the White Hall Arts Academy offers a blend of classical and contemporary arts training to children and adults. South LA, in the U.S.’s second-largest city and home to a multicultural mix of middle and lower-income residents, is an arts desert.

Seeking to make a difference, Tanisha Hall began offering low-cost private music lessons in her home in 2002. As word spread, the escalating demand led to the idea of a conservatory-style school serving the community. In 2011, Tanisha transitioned from her 15-year music industry career to a full-time music educator.

Now, almost eight years later, the WHAA has instructed over 5,000 students through private lessons in studio and online. With an instructor staff of 6 teaching daily lessons, even this number is not meeting the demand. WHAA’s expanded offering includes dance and fitness classes, and hopes to one day include visual arts and theatre arts programs. In January 2014, the WHAA entered into a partnership with the city of LA to offer a free after-school community music program of classes for children ages 4-18. The program began with 25 children and in a year, enrollment had grown to over 125 children. Additionally, WHAA expands its reach by partnering with local organizations such as Community Build, the Al Wooten Youth Center and the Right Way Foundation to provide music education and career training services.

For more than seven years, WHAA has succeeded at not only serving the underserved but connecting them with opportunities outside of the program. Success stories include students who have appeared in numerous movies, commercials and television series including American Idol, The Voice and American’s Got Talent. The Music 4LA community program students were featured on actor Keith Robinson’s song “Undefeated”. WHAA supports personal growth through enriching experiences such as these.

Has it been a smooth road?
However, for all the successes, there have been many challenges. In 2016, the city of LA ended its support of the flourishing community music program. This loss was valued at $60,000 annually and nearly $20,000 of instruments. Tanisha was faced with the prospect of denying students the opportunity and shuttering the program but chose to continue the program with her own funds. By using her salary to cover the expenses, those 125 students could still receive music instruction.

Today, unwavering in commitment to the community, Tanisha and her team continue to work diligently to raise funds to continue the community group classes and replace the instruments. Unfortunately, due to the financial burden, the community music program classes were forced to be suspended for much of 2017. During this time, the program was downsized to fit current budget and instrument availability. WHAA’s community program now operates on a shoestring, serving the neighborhood at half capacity. In October 2017, the community program was reintroduced as Music 4LA, a Saturday program offering unlimited music classes for $25 per month. The changes mean that only 50 of the program’s original 125 students are able to continue.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the White Hall Arts Academy story. Tell us more about the business.
The White Hall Arts Academy is a “one stop shop” training center for discovering the true performer in you. Private and group music lessons are available for all ages in piano, violin, guitar, bass, singing, drums, songwriting and recording. Increasing strengths and improving weaknesses is our mission.

What sets WHAA apart from other music schools is our focus on contemporary training and commercial work. Our students are fully prepared to step into any professional recording studio or rehearsal.

I am most proud of the reputation WHAA has in both our local community and the industry as a whole. WHAA students are known to be top of the line, well versed, highly prepared and successful! For WHAA students, our facility is their second home. In fact, most of our teen’s first job is working at WHAA. From volunteering to be a classroom aid to teaching lessons and admin responsibilities.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We are planning a major expansion for the next 5-10 years. Our community desperately needs more access to housing and mental health services. White Hall Arts Academy, beyond focus on arts education, has a heart for the foster community. Our partnerships with Community Build and the Right Way Foundation have enabled us to have access to provide music education and exposure to foster youth and those who have recently transitioned out of foster care. As we move forward, our plan is to expand these services as well as create housing and career training services for transitional age foster youth. This is a great need in our community that we are looking to address head-on.

Pricing:

  • $35 for a 30 minute private lesson
  • $60 for a 1 hour private lesson
  • $25 monthly tuition for Music 4LA program (ages 4-18)
  • $125 for package of four 30 minute private lessons
  • $220 for a package of four 1 hour private lessons

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
White Hall Arts Academy

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