TU music students featured on “The Drew Barrymore Show" - The University of Tulsa
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TU music students featured on “The Drew Barrymore Show”

Chance Jackson and Shaun Roberts with Drew BarrymoreTwo years ago, The University of Tulsa’s School of Music and local retirement community Montereau entered a unique partnership. In exchange for organizing and performing concerts and conducting open practices throughout the academic year, two music students earn free room and board at the not-for-profit senior center.

The program was designed to foster intergenerational bonding and interaction and has been considered an unprecedented success by all involved. Now, others have taken notice of this unique learning opportunity.

Tulsa television stations began reporting the news last year. But when the New York Post ran an article in November about this year’s students, it caught the attention of producers at “The Drew Barrymore Show.”

Chance Jackson and Shaun RobertsThe New York City-based team flew Chance Jackson and Shaun Roberts, both music education majors from Oklahoma, to the Big Apple to tape an interview with actor Drew Barrymore for her talk show. The episode aired Feb. 7.

“The best part about the trip to New York was the NYC pizza and the recording session,” said Jackson. “And the Broadway show ‘Chicago,’” remarked Roberts. “I mean, talk about doubling chops in the saxophone section.” (Roberts plays sax, and Jackson plays trumpet.)

Being featured on national television is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The pair answered questions about living at the retirement center and whether they had received any dating advice from the seniors. Before leaving the studios, they managed to sneak in a selfie with Barrymore.

While the arrangement helps students to hone their craft, the experience offers them much more. “Besides growing as a musician and taking advantage of performance opportunities, I’ve become so much more comfortable spending time with older generations,” Jackson said. “This year at Montereau has benefitted me by pushing me outside of my comfort zone. It’s made me more social,” added Roberts.

Montereau viewing party for Chance Jackson and Shaun Roberts' Drew Barrymore interviewCreated by TU President Brad R. Carson and Montereau CEO Scott Nield, the unique partnership gives two carefully selected students a supportive environment to learn about history from those who have lived it. In the case of Jackson and Roberts, their next-door neighbor is in her 90s.

Above all, the students are incredibly grateful. “I’d like to thank Montereau and the TU School of Music for facilitating this wonderful opportunity,” said Jackson. Roberts specifically called out Associate Professor of Music Judith Raiford for her support.