#GetFestive Spotlight: Blues in the Schools

The students sing their hearts out for an excited crowd along with teachers Jeannie Wong and Colleen Loubser, accompanied by Blues and Jazz musician TJ Wheeler, Juno-nominated Anna Ludlow, Celtic musician Graham Lindsey and Grade 6 student musician Julian Fuenzilida on the keys.

The second grade class of Corpus Christi Catholic School performed on the Bluesville stage on the closing day of Bluesfest here in Ottawa. The performance consisted of approximately 20 confident students singing their hearts out accompanied by one of their coaches, Blues and Jazz musician TJ Wheeler, and other acclaimed musicians including Juno-nominated Anna Ludlow and local Celtic musician Graham Lindsey.

Blues in the Schools celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. It has brought the blues genre and others into schools not only from a musical standpoint, but also historical background in discussing the associated African-American heritage. Schools apply to have professional musicians come into school and enrich students in a hands-on creative approach to create music. As Alan Marsden, RBC Bluesfest Community Program Manager, called them, the students are very much like “music sponges,” being able to soak up all kinds music to have a wider understanding of the art.

Jeannie Wong, a teacher at Corpus Christi, has been running this program with the school for 20 years, the longest involvement of any school with the program! As she stated, this program helps the students “express their feelings, build confidence, and learn skills for life.” Sheri Stashick, the principal of the school, marvels in the fact the program fulfills all the school board’s strategic commitments to “Be Community, Be Well, and Be Innovative.” In a social climate where cuts are being made to the music programs in schools, having a program like this is truly amazing for students.

Presenting the involved staff of Corpus Christi Catholic School!
From left to right, Principal Sheri Stashick, and Teachers Colleen Loubser and Jeannie Wong

Bluesfest is always a great time, but the associated community work is also astounding and should be recognized. Keep supporting these festivals doing incredible work for the capital and #GetFestive Ottawa!

Author: Rohini Gupta