Blues In The Schools
“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”
–William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education
Workshops and Blues In The Schools
I have been performing and teaching guitar since 1973. My course approach specializes blues guitar workshops and the Blues In The Schools program. My success in teaching through the years is placing the emphasis on enjoyment while teaching students about the origin of blues music, the only true original American music art form. My mission statement is one of striving to preserve this music art form by way of presenting simple, yet informative stories through words and music during certain specified sessions. Since I tour extensively in the U.S., I try to coordinate these sessions with my travels.
- During a one-hour lecture /performance, students are taught about blues music originating in the Mississippi Delta, but also how different sounds and musical influences developed geographically in the years following the Civil War to the present, having to do with the U.S. migration northward from the south.
- This presentation covers the origins of blues music from its early beginnings, e.g. field hollers, work songs, etc. to its current popularity. Through song, lecture and discussion, students learn the history of the Blues while hearing instrumental examples sung and played on guitar.
- Basic definitions of Blues music such as, “What is the Blues?” are reinforced throughout this session. This course is geared toward everyone, regardless of age as individuals being exposed to blues for the first time, as well as furthering interest through prearranged sessions at schools, colleges, libraries, community centers, or music festivals. This is my most effective and recommended workshop for the uninitiated, and is designed to reach a mass audience.
- My session may also include a separate solo acoustic guitar/ vocal performance, or an electric set featuring guitar, bass, and drums, depending on the event.
BELOW: Photos From Roger’s Blues In The Schools Session
Powell Elementary Magnet School – Raleigh, NC
It was just about 50 years ago in 1963 when Roger, barely 10 years old at the time, took his first guitar lesson and since then there’s been no looking back. Over the last 40 years, Roger’s involvement has reached into pretty much every aspect of the music business. Being a musician, a singer, a songwriter, a record label owner/operator, an advisory board member of the Georgia Music Industry Association, an International Blues Competition judge, and having 40 years of broadcasting experience on TV, radio and the Internet, finding something in the industry he’s not familiar with would equal finding the needle in the haystack. On top of all of that, for the last 10 years, Roger has been involved with one of the strongest tools that exist in the efforts of keeping the blues alive and that’s educating young people about the genre. Through his involvement with the Blues in the Schools Program, he does just that. If I may, I would like to tell you about two personal experiences I have had with Roger and his educational endeavors.
In 2006 while attending the “Springing The Blues” festival in Jacksonville Beach, FL, I was one of the thousands of people witnessing Roger being given the Key To The City for his participation in Blues In The Schools in Jacksonville area schools during the week of the event.
Jacksonville Times Union
Blues in the Schools brings music history, performances to classroom
Roger “Hurricane” Wilson visits local schools April 2-5
“I’ve asked them to picture themselves in a large cotton field with a searing hot sun beating down on them, knowing they’ll have to work that field all day, bent over without a break,” said Wilson. With the image in mind, Wilson may belt out a work song or “holler” that many say is the precedent for the Blues.
From April 2-5, students in several beaches area schools will get that experience. Wilson is a volunteer educator for Blues in the Schools, an interactive program established by the Blues Foundation designed to teach students the history and evolution of the Blues through performance and stories. The program is made possible by George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival, held annually at the Seawalk Plaza in Jacksonville Beach. This year, the festival will be held April 6-8.
Wilson takes kids through the history of the Blues by performing songs or melodies of many styles, among them Delta, Chicago, Memphis and Piedmont. “You could give kids all kinds of stats and dates for a history lesson,” said Wilson. “But actually hearing and experiencing a live performance is much more fun and lasting,” he added.
Wilson hopes the performances leave kids with an appreciation for the Blues. “I hope the music is something they carry with them,” Wilson stated. “It’s what America is about.”
Wilson’s love for music began when he was nine years old, when he began playing the guitar. As he grew up in New Jersey and Atlanta, Wilson’s musical interest was influenced by the sounds of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, Booker T & the MGs and B.B. King. After graduating high school, he took a job teaching guitar in a private studio, eventually taking over the business. Wilson began playing professionally in 1972 and over the years has jammed with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Les Paul, Albert Collins, and Charlie Musselwhite. He’s played shows and festivals with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Little Milton, John Mayall, Delbert McClinton, Taj Mahal, Savoy Brown and Leon Russell, among others. Wilson has released 7 CD’s, and is currently working on his 8th.
Wilson is scheduled to play George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival with his band on Friday, April 6 at 5:30 on the West Stage and Saturday, April 7 at 1:30 on the Main Stage. He will perform a solo acoustic set on the West Stage on Sunday, April 8 at 12:30. For more information on Roger “Hurricane” Wilson or the festival, go to www.springingtheblues.com.
Partial list of schools where Roger has taught Blues In The Schools
Port Salerno Elementary School – Stuart, FL
Due West Elementary School – Marietta, GA
Woodward Academy – College Park, GA
Fernandina Beach High School – Fernandina Beach, FL
Powell Elementary School – Raleigh, NC
Gulf Coast State University – Panama City, FL
Saint Monica School – Garfield Heights, OH
Granville Middle School – Granville, OH
Beaches Episcopal School – Jacksonville Beach, FL
Jacksonville Beach Elementary – Jacksonville Beach, FL
Fletcher Middle School – Jacksonville Beach, FL
Fletcher Senior School – Jacksonville Beach, FL
Beaches Chapel School – Neptune Beach, FL
Kernan Trails Elementary – Jacksonville, FL
Boys & Girls Club – Jacksonville Beach, FL
Checotah High School – Checotah, OK
Spring – Ford Middle School – Royersford, PA
Blues Presentations & Workshops
South Cobb Roatary Club – Marietta, GA
Georgia Music Industry Association – Atlanta, GA
Pearl River Public Library – Pearl River, NY
North Cobb Rotary Club – Kennesaw, GA
Amelia Island Museum – Fernandina Beach, FL
Ben Robertson Community Center – Kennesaw, GA
Bradfordville Blues Festival – Tallahassee, FL
Sadler Music – Kennesaw, GA
George’s Music – Orange Park, FL
George’s Music – Jacksonville Beach, FL