Bringing the Joy of Music to Disadvantaged Youth

The future musicians of Knoxville.

Music for everyone – that is the heart of Knoxville’s Joy of Music school. Its mission is “to provide quality music education for financially disadvantaged, at-risk youth”, a goal it has passionately pursued for more than 20 years. Sitting at a downtown coffee shop, with another man tapping out time at the next table, Joy of Music alumnus Taber Gable knows the impact music can have on a child’s life.

“Art is one of the clearest indicators of our history,” he explains with a smile. “Going back to listen to our favorite tunes, and getting that recall of the moment in time when we first heard that song by whoever our favorite artist is, I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Joy of Music alumnus Taber Gable at the keyboard.

At the age of nine, Taber’s mother signed him up at the Joy of Music school, which opened doors for the young musician. “They just gave me access to a lot of resources I otherwise wouldn’t have had access to,” he recalls, speaking not only of free instruments but also connections to the local musicians who volunteered their time to be teachers at the school. As he got older and his skill grew, the program connected him with music professors at the University of Tennessee who helped him continue his journey. He went on to graduate from the Juilliard School in New York City, later publishing an album and performing on a radio show on WUOT. Plans for a new album are already in the works.

On April 27, Taber is giving back to the Joy of Music school by performing at their annual Dining for Joy fundraiser, alongside fellow musician Gregory Tardy. He encourages anyone who can to come out to support Knoxville’s future artists. And for anyone whose kids show the same love for music that he did, reach out. “They’ll put you in the right hands for sure.”

To learn more about the Joy of Music school, visit

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