Education at every level, all over the world, has been retooled on the fly this year, since municipal and state shutdowns have closed schools of every type. Teachers, students, and parents alike find things they like and dislike about online learning, but it seems that even once the restrictions are lifted, some form of virtual education is here to stay.
New methods are being explored to keep students engaged, but especially with younger learners, opportunities to travel to remote locations have been limited.
Now Henhouse Prowlers, Chicago’s hometown bluegrass band, has come up with something that should interest teachers across the US, called Bluegrass Ambassadors Field Trip. It is a multi-genre virtual music program created for kindergarten through grade 2, including bluegrass of course, with supplemental videos and a passport workbook, highlighting music from around the world. They have also developed a one-hour presentation for middle and high school students called Bluegrass 45.
Though based in Chicago, the Prowlers have toured extensively all over the world in association with the US State Department, and while abroad seen that interacting with youngsters through music is a universal language. Traveling throughout Africa, they have noticed that while adults are sometimes reticent about reacting to an unfamiliar musical style, children start dancing without reservation.
That recognition was the spark for them to launch Bluegrass Ambassadors, a non-profit entity formed to support music education worldwide. They develop school programs and arrange for musicians and bands to visit schools to let students experience sounds that may be new to them.
At this stage, a fundraising effort is underway to offer the Field Trip to teachers in Illinois free of charge. Running through October 28, the band is soliciting donations online through Swell Fundraising, and asking everyone to help them cover the costs, with prizes!
They even made this explainer video to share their vision.
The Bluegrass Ambassadors Field Trip is currently being structured to meet the education requirements in the state of Illinois, but I have no doubt that they would love to expand it more widely across the US.
Please donate if you can.