Blues In The Schools

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.