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 Blues in the Schools with Crossroads Blues Society

2/21/2019 12:00 AM

​Crossroads Blues Society has supported Blues in the Schools (BITS) since May 2002. We have provided almost 400 programs for 74,000 students in Northern Illinois since the program's inception. So far, 195 of those programs have been done for more than 48,000 Rockford students. Crossroads strives to help keep the blues alive by educating students about the first musical form developed in America that also gave rise to all the forms of popular music we listen to today! 

We have provided 45 programs so far this school year for 6,300 students. Of those, 20 were with RPS 205 and 4,675 students were served. Our efforts the past few years have grown as funding for the program has grown with our festival's success. Every year on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend, we run a festival at Lyran Park in Rockford whose profits support our BITS programming.

We will top 100 programs this year; our support this ​winter and spring for Head Start and RPS 205 preschools will likely be around 50-60 programs. We have a dozen residency programs in the works with Wheatbread Johnson ​​at East and Auburn​ high schools along with other programming. 

Programming typically takes three forms. We began with assemblies where anywhere from 100 to 500 students fill a theater or gymnasium and blues artists come in to entertain and educate them about the blues. These programs run from 35 minutes to an hour, depending on the school's desires. Residency programs are a second form of program. These are typically at the high school level but can be done at any level. Our recent high school work was been at East High School and ranged from teaching songwriting, to choral and guitar performances over the past three years. These programs are for an entire school period and run several days over two-to-three weeks. Lastly, we have developed a shorter preschool program that features hands-on percussion, singing and dancing. Serving one-to-four classes at a time in a smaller setting, we work with younger students in a shorter time frame more suitable for their attention spans. We teach them about the blues while having fun.

Crossroads Blues Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization staffed by volunteers who hire music professionals who are good educators/speakers and provide these programs free to local schools. If you would like to arrange programming, please contact me at 779-537-4006 or Crossroads is happy to entertain all requests for support.

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