Blues In The Schools

Crossroads Blues Society has participated in Blues In The Schools programs since May of 2002. Through the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 138 programs have been accomplished for over 42,000 students in the greater Rockford/Northern Illinois area.

Here is a video of an opportunity where Eastland Middle School students listened to and learned from an exceptional blues duo - Paul Rishell and Annie Raines - on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

Blues In The Schools (BITS) is a nationally acclaimed cultural and musical appreciation program that helps students understand the rural and urban African-American culture.  Age appropriate content is formatted to deliver high quality learning experiences that meet the goals and fulfill the mission of  Blues In The Schools, Inc.  Based on this premise, this program was developed to suit the needs of students in a variety of settings from organizations to schools. Many areas of culture and art are explored in a hands on setting where students actively participate in the creation of music and composition of songs that represent them. 

The purpose of the program is to introduce students to the Musical Art form that originated in Africa and was brought to the new world via slavery. The music has since undergone many changes but still maintains the essence of deep expression that the tradition it is based on instills.  The programs goals include providing a forum where students can identify the cultural, geographical and historical origins and evolution of Blues music and the people who composed and played it while gaining an understanding of it's significance in the world of modern music and popular culture.

What is a Typical BITS Program Comprised Of?
Programs will vary, but the following topics are typical of a BITS program: 
Origins of Blues as African Tradition
History of Blues in the New World
Instruments used yesterday and today
Migration and Evolution of the Blues
Definitions of Blues terms
Songwriting excersize
Interactive Music making

How Does CBS Accomplish All This?

We work to raise funds predominantly through our blues festivals but also through membership, donations and grants. We collect annual dues from members and receive donations from citizens who share our conviction to keep the blues alive.  We have held fund raising concerts and events each year to assist in fund raising and since 2010 we have run an annual blues festival as our primary fund raiser.  The funds that are raised and collected each year are used to host Spring and Fall programs in area schools.

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