BluesEd is celebrating its 20th year of working with young musicians. Its mission is the same as when it started: to pass on the art of blues music to the next generation.
Ethan Kleveter, a senior with the band Us and Them, said he's learned a lot through the program about performing live, and the foundations of many songs he already enjoyed.
“Blues is like the basis of everything we hear, especially on the radio," Kleveter said. "It’s like the western classical music.”
The nonprofit sponsored by the Blues Society of Omahaconnects middle and high school students who already have an interest in music, with local blues musicians, to learn the basics and eventually work their way to writing and performing their own songs.
“It really becomes about teaching them really specific things: 12 bar blues type stuff, improvisation, how they write the music out and listen to music and what they need to do to prepare," said Michael Klein, co-director of the program.
The program also helps create bands, giving students the chance to perform both regionally and nationally.
This has helped them grow not just as musicians, but as young adults. Macy Klein, a saxophonist with Us and Them, said playing with her band has helped her get through tough times.
“Just being with a band that you know always has your back and just being able to play on stage and forget everything I could imagine happening behind me is such an experience that’s incredible having," Macy Klein said.
Like many programs, they’ve been hit hard in the past year and have had to postpone many performances. But now they’re back on stage, ready to share the music they love.
Val Pioppi, a vocalist with Us and Them, said it's something she wants to be able to continue throughout her life.
“I’d love to continue doing music throughout my life," Pioppi said. "Because it just brings me so much joy, it brings so many other people so much joy that, I’d love to be able to spread that.