The ‘Bluegrass in the Schools’ program has been a part of the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown since its second year. This year’s 2017 festival will be the 23rd Durango Bluegrass Meltdown and the 22nd year for the ‘Bluegrass in the Schools’ program. The ‘Bluegrass in the Schools’ program started small with only one band providing bluegrass music at one school (Durango High School) and has since expanded to about a dozen schools and includes participation in neighboring communities. The program now reaches an average of 1500 youth annually. We bring bluegrass bands to local schools for hour-long music presentations and provide professional sound systems and technicians to enhance the experience at no costs to the school.
The objective of the music outreach program is to provide local children with a bluegrass music experience that includes listening and observing a live band performance, as well as an introduction and education to bluegrass instruments and the history of the music that reflects the melting pot of this country.
Bluegrass music is a form of ‘American Roots Music’, with mixed roots in Scottish, English, German, Welsh and Irish traditional music and was additionally influenced by the jazz and blues elements in the music of African-Americans. The music from these cultures was blended together by immigrants in the Appalachia region of the United States. The label of ‘Bluegrass’ wasn’t adopted until the early 1950s and was derived from Bill Monroe’s band ‘The Bluegrass Boys’, named after Monroe’s home state of Kentucky.
Bluegrass music is traditionally played on acoustic stringed instruments, mainly the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and upright bass, but may also include the dobro, harmonica, accordion, autoharp and dulcimer. Another distinguishing characteristic of bluegrass music is vocal harmonies featuring two, three and four parts. Bluegrass tunes are often ballads or narratives describing the events and influences in people’s lives, while instrumentals were frequently used to accompany a rural dancing style known as buckdancing, flatfooting or clogging.
Last year we experimented with some students at some schools preparing a bluegrass standard to play with the professional band we brought to their school. It was a great success and this year we have students preparing to play along.
If your school would like to participate in a ‘Bluegrass in the Schools’ presentation, or if you or your organization would be interested in sponsoring this non-profit music education program, please contact us at 970-946-0471 or firstname.lastname@example.org