Getting The Blues

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RICHMOND, VA- Thanks to the efforts of some local music lovers, Goochland County students have been getting an education in the history and cultural significance of Blues music.

And, according to county teachers, the project has been a hit.

As part of the Blues in the Schools (BITS) program, an effort by members of the Richmond-based River City Blues Society, celebrated musicians from the Richmond area and beyond have been visiting county classrooms to perform and share their appreciation for the Blues.

Goochland High School teacher Elizabeth Pearson, whose students were recently treated to a performance by musician Bruce Katz and his band, said the program melds seamlessly into the curriculum and helps capture students’ attention and imagination in a way few textbooks could.

“We’re focusing on American Literature and American History this year, and music is an integral part of the American experience,” Pearson said. “The Blues, which originated in the Southern part of the United States, was created and reflected the experience of people of African descent in America. I wanted to draw this history into my classroom, especially as we approach the unit on the Civil War.”

To Goochland Elementary School English teacher Kim Watts, whose class was able to take in a concert by the Peterson Brothers of Austin, Texas, last September, watching the students joyfully responding to the music was proof enough of the programs’ ability to inspire.

“The music was sensational, and we absolutely loved the entire afternoon,” Watts said. “We are so grateful to The River City Blues Society for providing such talented, inspiring young musicians.”

River City Blues Society member Ellen Foster, who helps organize the BITS program, said the reaction they’ve seen from teachers and students so far is exactly what they were looking for.

The goal now, she said, is to get more schools to say yes to the project.

Foster said she wants to continue to instill a love of Blues music, but added that there is a higher goal for the effort as well.

When it comes to the students, “I’d like them to see that education can be fun,” Foster said. “That’s the number one thing.”

Goochland-Gazette/Roslyn Ryan



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