Category Archives: Blues in the Schools

News about our Blues in the Schools program.

Blues In the Schools Needs Your Support!

DID YOU KNOW? Boise Blues Society (BBS) is a non-profit organization with a mission of promoting blues music through a wonderful program called Blues In the Schools (BITS).
Its part of a nationwide program involving dozens of blues societies  and is especially important now because funding for music programs in public schools seem to be a priority target for budget cuts.
We’ve also presented BBS Student Scholarships to several outstanding young musicians in the Treasure Valley. 
If you’re a member of BBS, thank you. If you’re not, please join us and help support our cause.
. Contact BBS President Ken Harris at kjharris1925@yahoo.com or 208-440-4590. For more info: http://boiseblues.org/education/blues-schools-bits/

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Testimonial from Tracy Martin – Director of Music at Canyon Springs High School

BITSTestimonial from Tracy Martin – Director of Music at Canyon Springs High School

As a music teacher, I (like many music teachers) take pride in training my students in a variety of musical styles to thoroughly develop their musical expertise. Yet we often fail to celebrate one of the most recognizable forms of American music still performed to this day: the blues. Our students know the blues when they hear it and some have even grown up with it. Within the plethora of musical styles that must be mastered and taught in the public school system, this essential genre often falls to the bottom of the priorities list.

Ken Harris and the Boise Blues Society were there to help. Through their Blues in the Schools program, they arranged for a custom-selected blues band to perform for my students, including specialized instrumentation so that each student would have a professional to collaborate with. Their presentations and activities for each class were individualized based upon students’ level of mastery and included a variety of content matter from historical context to musical theory. My students were encouraged to stand up and join in with the performers and it was a great moment when some of my shyest students came out of their shell to play or sing their solo. Whether you have a thriving program with hundreds of students or a K-12 music class at a rural school, the Blues in the Schools program will captivate your students and have them humming the blues for weeks to come.

Tracy Martin
Director of Music – Canyon Springs HS (Caldwell)

Blues in the Schools at Canyon Springs High School in Caldwell

Blues in the Schools at Canyon Springs High School in CaldwellBITS

Review by Ken Harris

On February 18, The Boise Blues Society showed up bright and early for “Blues In The Schools” at Canyon Springs High School in Caldwell.  We were there for 3 classes: Guitar, Choir, and Jazz Ensemble

Our presenters were:

Ken Harris-piano, harmonica, vocals
Mike Witmer-bass
Leif Skyving-harmonica,slide guitar
Bob Peters-drums
Carmel Crock-vocals
Marv Jonesi-guitar
Phil Garonzik-tenor sax
Jack Gardner-trumpet
Ron Gardner-videographer

In the Guitar class, after the band played 2 introductory songs, Marv demonstrated a series of simple guitar licks that the students all practiced on their individual guitars.  Then Leif gave a slide guitar presentation and invited two students up to give it a try on a second slide guitar he had brought.

For Choir, the band played a blues song and Carmel got out in the midst of the students, had them all stand up and then got them to sing some simple blues riffs in 3 part harmony.  Several students also tried some scat singing with the band.

In the Jazz Ensemble, the students split up for individual instruction with Bob, Phil, Jack, Ken and Mike to work on their parts on “Watermelon Man.” Jack did double duty working with two student trumpeters. At class’s end, all the students and presenters played “Watermelon Man” together.

We look forward to returning to Canyon County soon!

For information on bringing “Blues In The Schools” to YOUR school, FREE OF CHARGE, call Ken Harris at #440-4590.