US schools shown the history of blues music

Blues music emerged as a genre from African American musicians living in Southern Texas and the Deep South and today it forms part of the US’ rich history of music.

A programme is being run in American schools to remind pupils of where popular music came from and learn more about the blues. They could even be persuaded to pick up an instrument and try out the genre for themselves.

Called Blues in the Schools, the programme is run in schools throughout the west coast of the US by a group of professional blues players.

One of the bands recently performed at Pioneer High School in Woodland, California, but it took some real persuasion to entice students into the auditorium, illustrating just how detached young people can be from the genre, even with last week’s Grammy Awards celebrating blues along with pop and rock.

Just one pupil in the crowd said he had heard of blues singer Muddy Waters, while another had never even seen a saxophone before. According to the Sacramento Bee, some students only stayed for a minute before deciding the gig wasn’t for them.

However, the band is passionate about educating young people on the importance of blues music.

“It’s the basis of all American music,” Liz Walker, co-chair of Blues in the Schools, told the news provider.

“Everything from jazz to gospel comes from the blues … The Blues Society is, through the Blues in the Schools, our way to preserve it. To get the next generation of blues musicians and fans.”

Of course, some students loved the music and two pupils even picked up their saxophone and guitar to jam with the musicians.

The programme is delivered to around 1,000 schoolchildren a year by the Sacramento Blues Society and YoloArts and the bands even visit institutions for troubled children and Juvenile Hall.

Some visits include smaller group workshops and include input from history teachers about the American form of music.

Blues in the Schools can also be found on myspace.

How important is it for children to learn about musical traditions? Would you like to see similar schemes in a school near you?

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