Fundraiser Aims to Expand Blues in the Schools Program

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COLUMBIA - More kids could be singing the blues in Columbia after Wednesday night. The Roots N Blues N BBQ Foundation is hosting a fundraiser at the Blue Note benefiting the "Blues in the Schools" program.

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"Name That Tune" is the name of the game tonight. Eight teams will compete against each other to win. Teams will listen to tunes and attempt to be the first to guess the song correctly. Although the organization has provided resources for the "Blues in the Schools" programs since 2007, this is the first year the group has held this fundraiser.

"This serves to finance music educators in Columbia area schools who teach the rich cultural heritage of the blues and roots music," said Tom Smith, Vice President of the Roots N Blues N BBQ Foundation.

Since 2007 the organization's goal has been to expand this program in Columbia schools. Smith said last year 15 schools had the program, and this year the goal is 19. Long term goals for the organization is to have the program in every school in the Mid-Missouri area, and eventually state wide.

At U.S. Grant Elementary School the "Blues in the Schools" Program has had a positive impact.

"I like that we just get to sing songs and learn about the blues," 3rd grader Molly Hume said. "We get to pretty much get all of our energy out when we are dancing and singing. I really like the blues songs we come up with too."

Grant Elementary music specialist Pam Sisson said the program also doubles as a history lesson for students.

"It really does relate greatly to the history of the United States," Sisson said. "We feel like that is an important element, as well as the important of the blues to our self confidence and our feelings."

Part of the program includes bringing in blues musician TJ Wheeler. Wheeler comes to Grant Elementary once a year to educate students on blues music. Sisson said he offers a warm and enriching program.

Smith said funding for music programs in schools typically are under pressure and are the programs cut first. He said fundraisers like the one tonight aim to make sure music programs are not cut in Columbia.