Students from Grant Elementary
School opening the 1996 Chicago Blues Festival.
"Blues In The Schools" was conceived
in 1978 by Chicago musician Billy Branch and his band, "The Sons Of Blues."
The program is an educational project for Middle School children which
teaches them all aspects of the blues as an American art form including
such topics as the history of the "Blues," famous Blues musicians, different
styles of "Blues," and writing, singing and performing "Blues." Each student
receives focused instructions on how to play the Blues harmonica. Following
each multi-week program, the students appear in a graduation concert.
The project presents a unique opportunity
for students to exhibit, use and develop their innate musical abilities
through this alternative approach to education. They are taught the discipline
of the art and learn the interaction and teamwork which creates self-esteem
and self confidence.
"Blues In The Schools" continues
today where it was born at the Grant Elementary School in Chicago. It has
been nurtured and grown under the direction of Principals Donald Moran
and Kay Jones. The program has been actively supported by Barry Dolins,
Director of Neighborhood Festivals at the Mayor's Office of Special Events
in the City of Chicago.
The results of this unique program and
Billy's abilities to interact with children are rewarding. "Blues In
The Schools" has been presented around the United States from Charleston,
South Carolina, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was recently featured on an eight
minute segment of CBS's "Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt" and also on
the "Bryant Gumbel Show," as well as on the NBC "Today Show" and CNN.
"Blues In The Schools" is offered
on a limited basis in two, three or four week workshops each year. The
program is attractive to foundations for sponsorship funds.