On Tuesday afternoon, Joel Laviolette announced on Facebook that he and his wife Rakefet Laviolette will be closing the Rattletree School of Marimba, a small complex in South Austin dedicated to teaching mbira, marimba and African music. The school has been open since 2013.
“Thank you for being a part of this beautiful community and supporting us over the years as we built this dream together. It’s been an honor to share the music with so many of you,” Laviolette said in the Facebook post.
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Laviolette said his elite student band, Kupira Marimba, will continue to perform and study with him. The group is booked to play the Austin Kiddie Limits stage on Oct. 6 at Austin City Limits Festival.
The Laviolettes have been open about financial struggles the family has endured since Rakefet Laviolette, who worked as program director at the school, was diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Earlier this month, fellow world music musicians rallied to create a benefit show, Rakefetfest. There’s also a GoFundMe account started by the family to help cover the expenses of Laviolette’s care.
“Unfortunately the cost of maintaining the school is just too great, and our family isn’t able to make ends meet,” Joel Laviolette said in the Facebook post.