Ottawa Bluesfest 2016

Blues in the Schools

What is Blues In the Schools?

2015 BITS program had over 6000 participants in 20 schools!

The 2016 RBC Bluesfest Blues in the Schools program runs from February 29 – March 11.

When did Blues In The Schools begin?

The program was initiated in two Ottawa-area schools in 1999 and has since seen tremendous growth. Each spring visiting artists/educators and local musicians deliver the Blues in the Schools program to thousands of students in Ottawa schools, contributing hundreds of hours of in-class instruction over a two-week period.

How does the program work?

The artists work with selected groups of students as part of the daily curriculum. The program is divided into two components – phases one and two.

PHASE 1 – Assembly-style presentation:

  • One hour-long presentation per day (preferably the first period in the morning or the first period after lunch);
  • Different performer per presentation (maximum of four presentations);
  • Presentations can include lectures, singing, or musical demonstrations;
  • Presentations are open to the whole student body.

PHASE 2 – Core Group Sessions:

  • One-hour sessions with selected core groups (no more than 30 students per day);
  • One artist/educator and one local musician throughout;
  • Teachers work with the visiting artists/educators to present the program;
  • Focus on more in-depth look at the history of music and music playing techniques;
  • Showcase performance for the student body during the final day of the program;
  • Opportunity to perform at the RBC Bluesfest in July.

How do the students benefit from Blues In The Schools?

Integral to our program is the mandate of reaching out to students and involving them in a universal form of communication; namely music. Music reflects the feelings of the times. Through Blues music, students can learn how an oppressed people empowered themselves with song in order to cope. Our intent is to integrate students from different ethnic backgrounds and in this way teach harmony and coping skills that will lead to a more fulfilling school experience.

How do schools get involved in the program?

2016 program runs from February 29 – March 11.

  • The 2016 RBC Bluesfest Blues in the Schools applications are now closed. 2017 applications will open again in the fall of 2016.
  • For Additional Information, please email Alan Marsden at
  • The fee for the 2016 Blues in the Schools program is $900 per school.

“We have a responsibility to the founders to pass on all that we have learned. If we don’t teach the history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
T.J. Wheeler – Blues Educator


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