GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance

Roots in the Schools

roots in the schools


Planting inspiration
through music

Roots in the Schools is our collaborative outreach program aiming to inspire youth through music all throughout the school year. By bringing musicians into schools, we expose youth to local music through performance, classroom presentations, and hands on experience. Our goal is to promote the creative health of children and provide them the opportunity to connect with the inspiring world of music.

Programming through Roots in the Schools is of no cost to the collaborating schools. All programs are funded entirely by GrassRoots. If you are a teacher, student, administrator, or program coordinator at a school or community organization and are interested in seeing Roots in your school, please contact us:


join us!

You can help us to bring live music in to schools and summer camps by making a tax-deductible donation to Roots in the Schools.

In 2018 we went to 11 different schools/summer camps, engaging directly with 1960 kids ages 4-18. So far in 2019 we’ve been to 4 schools/summer camps, engaging 449 kids ages 11-18. Help us grow these numbers!

Or, send a check to:
Roots in the Schools, c/o GrassRoots Festival
PO Box 941, Trumansburg, NY 14886.

What people are saying about their Roots in the Schools experience:

"The multi-cultural piece was huge for our students, who really embraced Samite. It was like nothing we have ever had before and we would love to have Roots in the Schools back again. It was a wonderful program." -Therese Mastro, Vestal Hills Elementary Principal

“The workshop really demystified the whole song writing process and quelled my misconceptions about it's formality. I was reminded of how much of a creative and spiritual process song writing is, and that makes it A LOT less scary and out-of-reach feeling. Not to mention, I also found and sang a harmony all by myself for the first time ever!!! YAY!!! I've struggled with harmonies all my life so that was really fulfilling. I think everyone should have a musical experience like that one.” -Genevieve, student at New Roots Charter School after a songwriting workshop with Maddy & Suave of Maddy Walsh & The Blind Spots

"Thank you, for The Blind Spots performance, last Friday! I think everyone really enjoyed it! I'm so thankful for programs, such as Roots in the Schools, that give students access to a variety of musical genres". -Denise Lacey-Corcoran, 7/8 Band Director and Beginning Band Director, Vestal Middle School

"Elastic Bond was fantastic and such an excellent presentation both professionally and musically. Our students and teachers enjoyed the sounds and fusion of Soul and Latin tunes and I just want to express our sincere appreciation for their presentation. They were punctual and very expressive in their performance/songs and everything went on and off without one glitch. Thank you again and please convey our gratitude for such an excellent event." - Charles Humes, Barbara Goleman Sr. High

Remembering leslie on her birthday

Trumansburg, NY - March 29, 2017 - The GrassRoots Festival matriarch, Leslie Puryear, had a deep love for both children and for music, and she especially thought it was important that the two co-mingled often. April 2, 2017 is the first birthday we’ll be remembering Leslie, rather than celebrating with her around the kitchen table. So, in her honor, we are highlighting our Roots in the Schools program for the month of April.

“We love this program! It brings us great joy to see children light up when the beats begin. It allows them to have a break from their regular day, and to connect with their music roots,” says program director Lissa Farrell. “Seeds are planted so that children may even grow to become musicians themselves.”

In 2016, about 1,800 kids in twelve different schools, ages 5-18 years old, were impacted by the Roots in the Schools program. There were a wide range of performances throughout the year, including whole-school shows by Samite, Driftwood, and The Blind Spots, to interactive African dance workshops, and an intimate workshop with Hip Hop artist, Eyukaliptus.

In 2017, we’ve already brought the Roots in the Schools program to 1,250 kids in seven schools, and we’re working on more engagements now!

Leslie Puryear was one of the creators and a longtime director of the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival. As fate would have it, Leslie passed on the eve of the 26th annual festival, in 2016. Read more about her life here: Leslie Puryear: Organizer, Mentor.

Roots in the Schools was created in 2010 by the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival Organization. Program costs are around $300-500 per performance.