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SCOE Students Get “The Blues”

Blues in the Schools Music Education Program Kicks Off

Guitarist and drummer performing

For the third consecutive year, students who are participating in Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Court and Community School programs are getting "the Blues." SCOE and the Sacramento Blues Society are once again bringing the Blues in the Schools program to SCOE school sites.

Blues in the Schools, also known as BITS, is geared toward middle and high school students. The program provides special opportunities to educate youth about the historical significance of the Blues and its ongoing impact on American and World culture.

"We are constantly adding new, school-based activities to keep our students engaged," said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon. "We believe that the Arts have made, and continue to make, a significant and positive change in the lives of our students."

BITS brings musicians, educators, storytellers, and other performers together to assist each other in teaching students about Blues music and its culture. The program is part of a larger SCOE focus on the Arts. In addition to extensive professional development programs in the Arts for instructional staff, students are able to participate in a variety of arts events, including Poetry Out Loud and the Third Saturday Design Downtown Student Exhibition.

The program began with a kick-off performance by the Blues in the Schools Band on March 3 at Morgan Jr./Sr. High School. The remaining assemblies are scheduled for the following SCOE school programs:

  • March 10, 2010: North Area Community School
  • March 24, 2010: Leo A. Palmiter Jr./Sr. High, E.L. Hickey Jr./Sr. High, Gerber Road Community School
  • March 31, 2010: Carson Creek Jr./Sr. High School

Assemblies are followed by clinics that bring professional musicians into the classrooms for direct interaction with students and teachers. The clinicians teach skills for improvising, rhythm styles, and ensemble playing. The members of the 2010 Blues in the Schools Band include Tess Honn, Paris Clayton, Rick Taylor, Leo Bootz, and Gary Mendoza.

Part of the BITS program involves a songwriting competition involving SCOE's court and community school students. The winning lyrics are put to music and recorded to CD.

Students watching performance
Singer in front of band, performing