Music Partnership Aims to Inspire Reservation Youth

American Idol Finalist Jamie Koehler, Musack Founder and Director Donick Cary and Darren Thompson.

Published January 30, 2018

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, WISCONSIN — A partnership between Musack Inc., the Lac du Flambeau Public School and Native American Flute Player Darren Thompson was recently established to provide students of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe an opportunity to learn how to play the Native American flute with an instrument of their own.

The partnership aims to develop positive self-identity by teaching youth how to play the Native American flute and express themselves musically from nationally recognized Native American flute player Darren Thompson. Each student will be given an instrument of their own and will be taught over several months both the history of the instrument and how to play it. The program strives to provide culturally based education from a cultural asset and to feature their learning in a community concert setting.

“We are excited for our students and community to have this opportunity,” said Lac du Flambeau Public School Principal Ron Grams. “Darren Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge through his career as a Native American musician and a member of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe. Developing positive cultural-identities isn’t the easiest thing to do and the more we can incorporate local culture into the classroom the better our students will perform not only in the classroom, but in the community.”

Musack is a nonprofit organization based out of Hollywood, California that aims to provide youth with an opportunity to learn how to play a musical instrument. Formed in 2009 by Hollywood writer and producer Donick Cary (The Tonight Show with David Letterman, The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation), Musack’s goal has been focused on raising money to supplement school music programs in his hometown on Nantucket Island. Today its mission is to continue to provide musical instruments to youth and schools throughout the world. Since its inception, its programs to fund schools and support music teachers has reached communities in Alaska, Appalachia, Compton (Los Angeles), Cuba, Haiti and several other reservations throughout the Southwest. This is the organization’s first Native American musical instrument program.

“Musack is thrilled to be helping build the next generation of flute masters and story tellers,” said Musack Founder and President Donick Cary. “Our dream is a future that features flutists sharing their music and telling their truths from coast to coast!”

Darren Thompson

Darren Thompson is a nationally recognized Native American flute player who has spent the last several years performing at the world’s largest monument, the Crazy Horse Memorial, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. An enrolled member of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe, he shares his people’s histories and culture with audiences throughout the world in a fun and unique way – through music. His friendship with Donick Cary started in 2017 while performing at the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he is scheduled to perform again this year.

“To be able to share my journey and passion with the next generation of youth in my own community is more than I could ever ask for,” said Darren Thompson. “Seeing the children’s reactions to this opportunity has made all my sacrifices worth it and so much more. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever music we can make together.”

The program’s goal is to provide youth a voice to express themselves culturally. The program will be monitored throughout its course by both the instructor and music teacher ensuring success through the program with the potential to take several students to Hollywood one day to share their experience. To keep a close eye on this unique opportunity or to support this effort please visit

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