Alabama Blues Project offers kids music lessons

Local schools will be getting a little blues added to their summer repetoire thanks to the Alabama Blues Project. Started in 1998, the program aims to pass on blues music and history to future generations.

The Blues Project started as an afterschool program and has since transitioned into being both an afterschool program and a weeklong summer camp, which will take place July 15-19.

“Our mission is to promote Alabama blues heritage and preserve it,” said Cara Lynn Teague, the program director for Alabama Blues Project. “It started in one small room at the Boys and Girls Club, teaching guitar, drums, harmonica and singing, and now we have almost 60 kids per semester.”

The camp is open to children ages 8-17, and attendees don’t have to have any prior knowledge of music or own their own instrument to attend.

“Most of the kids that come to us have never touched an instrument in their life,” Teague said. “For some of the at-risk kids, this is the only chance they have to get free or low-cost music lessons.”

A typical day at camp starts with students coming in the morning to have lessons in blues history, and in the afternoon students get their music lessons.

Teague said students are also split up into “mini-bands,” where they have the opportunity to write their own songs.

“They write songs in addition to learning as much as they can on their own particular instrument,” Teague said. “It helps with self-esteem and team building.”

Molly McQuitty, a senior majoring in public relations, is currently working as an intern at the Blues Project, and the Summer Blues Camp will be her first time working with the children.

“I’m excited to see how it’s going to be with the children at camp,” McQuitty said. “I’ll help with information or theory. I’ll explain to the children what they’re doing, and the instructor will show them.”

McQuitty said she was drawn to the internship because it combined her love of music and interest in nonprofit organizations.

“I don’t personally play any instruments, but I’m an advocate of music,” McQuitty said. “I knew the idea of nonprofit and the mission, but I didn’t realize all the little details that need to be put in it.”

McQuitty said her responsibilities as an intern mostly involve communicating and setting up information for those who seek information about the Blues Project.

“I help construct informational things we send out to our sponsors and members who want to be informed or involved in any sort of way,” McQuitty said. “I also am talking to many different artists getting donations for our Evening of Art and Blues and talk to blues artists to see if they can help.”