Karah Cepek

2023 Scholarship Recipient

Blues doesn’t mean music that is played in bars and at clubs in the background; Blues isn’t just a playlist that gets turned on in small town coffee shops. To me, Blues is a whole chunk of time that generations of African Americans poured themselves into. It has influenced so many genres of music and countless musicians. When I hear Blues, I can only try to imagine the emotion that those people were trying to express. The melancholy, energy and connection that it brings gives people a sense of hope or a feeling of wanting change.

Today, the rich history of it brings inspiration and creativity, and promotes healing and can bring a sense of comfort to many people. The emphasis that Blues has had on creativity has been used to teach students about the history and cultural significance of music. By studying the history and context of the Blues, students can gain a deeper understanding of the social and cultural forces that have shaped music. It has also allowed for understanding the ways in which it has been used as a tool for expression and empowerment. Blues has been a way to teach students about the technical aspects of music performance. Many Blues songs feature complex rhythms, chord progressions, and melodic structures. This provides a challenging and rewarding experience for students who are looking to improve their skills.

In addition to its influence on education, Blues music has also played an important role in building communities and fostering social connections. Many Blues songs are based on simple chord progressions and melodies, making them accessible and easy to play for musicians of all skill levels. Blues music is such a special type of music, not only for its history, but within these chord progressions. The use of call-and-response patterns, as well as the use of “blues notes”, which are notes that are played at a slightly lower pitch than the major scale. The emphasis of improvisation and creativity is one of the ways that it can influence music education. This emphasis has been embraced by many educators, who use Blues music as a way to teach students about the fundamentals of music theory, composition, and performance.

Blues music is played in bars and clubs and small coffee shops, but to me it means so much more. I hope to introduce more of it into my repertoire to help broaden my understanding of the technicalities of it, as well as invoke a curiosity about it in others. I believe that all types of music should be explored by musicians, and sharing it with people can only do good in the constant evolution of music. I believe that Blues music should be more widely taught and learned, and I am going to be a part of the influence that makes that happen. As the genre continues to evolve and inspire new generations of musicians and listeners, its influence is likely to continue to be felt for years to come.