School of Blues - Keeping the Blues Alive

School of Blues Director: Randy Mummert

The PPBC School of Blues is a non-profit, youth-artist development program sponsored by the Pikes Peak Blues Community with the mission, "Keeping the Blues Alive.” The School of Blues program has been created to provide opportunities for middle school and high school aged musicians to play with other students in a performance band format. Through a series of workshops led by professional blues musicians, School of Blues students will learn to perform a repertoire of blues music, along with learning the art of improvisation and solos. Workshops will focus on the methodology of rehearsals, techniques of jamming, on-stage communication, stage presence and performance, as well as the historical origins of the blues genre. Student bands will have multiple performance opportunities at PPBC jams, concerts, festivals and events in and around Colorado Springs.

Interested students are encouraged to register for an audition on any string, wind, percussion or keyboard instrument. This includes guitar, bass, drums, piano, organ, harmonica, saxophone, flute, clarinet, trumpet, baritone, trombone, tuba, violin and viola. Virtually any instrument can be played in a blues setting, including unusual instruments such as oboe, French horn, accordion, mandolin, dobro or banjo.

Singers are essential to a great blues performance. Student vocalists may audition as lead or backup singers, and may also combine their audition with an instrument. (Backup singers can sing harmony vocals with the house band on I’ll Take You There).

Auditions will be held by PPBC board members and paid mentors who will select the best potential talent from the group of young players. The selected musicians will be placed into new blues bands in the “School of Blues.”  Each band will select a chaperone and a coordinator from participating parents. Then, they will choose a name for their band.  The band will select six songs to learn during the summer. These selections will come from our master list of Blues/R&B/Funk/Gospel tunes.

Instruction cost is $200 per year/per student. This tuition pays for mentor services and needed materials. The summer course includes six workshops in which the mentor will instruct the band in arranging and playing each of the chosen, six tunes. A seventh workshop will be used to build the songs into an effective stage show.  Local musicians have shown interest in providing additional instruction in the form of seminars for specific instruments and/or topics.

The PPBC will work with the bands’ coordinators to find venues in order to provide the experience of playing for live audiences and to build some “road time.”


To participate in the School of Blues program students must be 12-18 years old and currently in middle school, high school or an equivalent education program.  In addition, students must:

  • Be proficient with their instrument. This includes having a basic knowledge of chords and some soloing abilities.  We cannot accept beginning students at this time. The auditions will assist in determining those who need more experience on their instrument before they are accepted to School of Blues.
  • Have the ability to memorize lyrics prior to workshops (ability to read music is not required).
  • Have some basic knowledge of playing blues.
  • Have the time and desire to practice at home and be committed to all performances with their assigned group.
  • Be willing to study a song by listening and charting the basic structure as homework for the workshops.
  • Have basic, organizational skills (bringing their notebook, charting music, keeping track of the music/lyrics/charts).
  • Be prepared by bringing all necessary equipment to the workshop and arrive in time to have all equipment setup before start time.

The on-stage audition will include 2 (or 3) parts:

  1. A short introduction by the student, providing a brief background of their musical experience, as well as their instrument and singing history.
  2. A performance by the student, with the PPBC backing band, of one of 4 essential blues songs:
    1. "The Thrill is Gone" by Rick Darnell & Roy Hawkins (Key of Bm, as performed by B.B. King) Sheet Music: The Thrill Is Gone
      Download: The Thrill is Gone - [BB King]

    2. "Key to the Highway" by Big Bill Broonzy (Key of A, as performed by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman) Sheet Music: Key To The Highway
      Download: Key to the Highway [Derek & the Dominos]

    3. "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson (Key of E, as performed by Magic Sam) Sheet Music: Sweet Home Chicago
      Download: Sweet Home Chicago [Magic Sam]

    4. I’ll Take You There” by Al Bell, (Key of C, by Staple Singers) – Backup Singer audition song Sheet Music: I'll Take You There
      Download: I'll Take You There [The Staple Singers]

  3. (Optional: if time permits, and a student feels that they can showcase their skills better by performing a familiar piece of their choosing, in addition to playing with the house band, they may do so. The song may be any genre. This enables the student to display their best skills in their “comfort zone.” Students may perform acapella or may bring a backing track.  A 1/8" stereo cord (headphone cord), a USB input or Bluetooth connection will be provided on the sound system to plug an iPod, memory stick or other music source.


  1. Guitarists and bassists should bring their guitar and a cord to plug into a supplied amp on stage.
  2. Drummers should bring their own sticks. A drum kit will be provided.
  3. A keyboard will be provided for piano, organ or synthesizer auditions
  4. Other instrumentalists (horns, harmonica, etc) should bring their instrument. A microphone will be provided.
  5. Vocalists: a microphone will be provided. The key of the mandatory blues song may be changed to fit the range of the singer, if necessary.
  6. The PPBC auditioning clinicians will ask about the student's knowledge of scales, styles, music experience, etc. Clinicians may also play with you to learn more about your playing ability and style.
  7. During the School of Blues season the participants will require individual practice time and private lessons are highly recommended.
  8. Additionally, this is a CLOSED audition and we ask that parents do not stay and listen to auditions.


Fill out the form at the bottom of this page by Saturday, March 6th.  Once registered, students will receive a confirmation email and will be assigned a specific day: March 10th or March 24th. An audition time will be assigned, as well. Come to Stargazers on the appropriate Saturday within 30 minutes of your scheduled audition. You will be sent to the Green Room at Stargazers for a short interview and have your picture taken.  After that, relax and await your turn to take the audition stage.  Players will audition only for the selected PPBC board members and the paid professional mentor.  You must leave Stargazers after auditioning. 

The auditions will take place at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center (10 South Parkside Drive, Colorado Springs, CO, 80910) on Saturday, March 10th or 24th, 2018. Students can register using the online form below. The audition is expected to take approximately 40 minutes, including check-in, a short interview and a 15-minute on-stage session with a PPBC band providing backup to the students.

AUDITION FEE: (To be paid at arrival to audition)

$5 audition fee.

For prospective students, we are offering reduced-price packaging for the Mike Zito Seminar on the afternoon of March 25th and for the Mike Zito Concert, doors at 6:00 p.m. and show at 7:00 p.m.

Normal fee for seminar is $20 and the Show $20.

Packaged deal:
$15 Audition/Seminar OR Show

$20 Audition/ Seminar AND Show


You will be notified if you are selected as a student in the PPBC School of Blues.  You will also be given a time and meeting place to get your band started. If you are not selected, we will also notify you and provide some constructive critique for improvement for next year’s auditions.


School of Blues is a non-profit program that relies heavily on parent volunteerism in order to keep costs down.  Parents will be encouraged to participate by volunteering at events, performances and fundraisers.  Prior to having your child audition, please consider this time commitment carefully.  Further questions can be emailed to the program’s directors at