The Roots N Blues N BBQ festival in Columbia, Missouri recently commissioned a mural painted on the side of a live music & music academy building, to honor and increase awareness for the long-running Blues In The Schools program. Children from the area were asked to draw what the blues means to them, and the best were selected to be pieced together and painted into the mural. The mural, also painted by children and members of the community, was unveiled last week to much fanfare.
The Blues Foundation’s Blues in the Schools program brings musical teachers, often working bluesmen and women, into the classrooms to provide valuable lessons to students of all ages through blues music. At the same time, Blues in the Schools is bringing music back into many schools where music departments are suffering from lack of funding, or worse, being cancelled altogether.
The Blues Foundation’s website describes the program. “The most effective BITS programs utilize a classroom curriculum that affects many students and disciplines. A comprehensive curriculum of one week to a month in length can address the main educational issues of the next century, inter discipline and diversity.”
The program, a loosely affiliated nationwide affair, is an excellent way to educate kids in arts, music, english, racial diversity and society, through curriculum’s that are fun, interesting, and filled with fantastic music. For example, teaching high school students about delta blues’ roots in Mississippi’s sharecropping “combines English, Social Studies, and Music to deliver a very crucial understanding of the relationship between these social and cultural factors in the birth of the blues”, according to the Foundation’s website.
One of the most important functions of the Blues in the Schools program, however, is that students are learning, enjoying, appreciating, and being immersed in blues music from an early age. Learning important lessons through music and blues musicians is helping to stamp out the unusual stigmas that have often been attached to the blues, and aids students in gaining a lifelong appreciation for the music. By teaching children the virtues of not only blues, but to broaden their musical archetypes, the next generation may be able to help carry the torch, and contribute to the growth of culture and arts.
The Roots N Blues N BBQ festival’s impressive two-story musical mural is a fantastic way to spread the news of such a unique and enriching program, and will hopefully serve as a beacon to call more establishments, events and areas to follow in their footsteps to help cultivate such a priceless public service. To learn more about the Blues in the Schools program, visit the Blues Foundation’s official website. If you’re not a member of the Blues Foundation, look into signing up. Through membership and donations, the Foundation is able to provide a great number of valuable services, such as Blues in the Schools, to blues musicians, fans and potential fans, and able to host the Blues Music Awards, International Blues Challenge, and other esteemed events.