Blues studies curriculum at USN

Steven Van Zandt and Geir Salvesen signing backstage in New York.  Photo: Norway Communicates
Steven Van Zandt and Geir Salvesen signing backstage in New York. Photo: Norway Communicates

Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation (RRFF) and the University college of Southeast Norway have signed a Letter of Intention (LOI), in support of the Blues Studies Curriculum in Notodden, Norway.

VIDEO: Signing with Little Steven
VIDEO: Learning the craft and finding the roots

Little Steven welcomed the delegation from USN this past week, with an official signing of a Letter of Intention taking place backstage just prior to the Little Steven & Disciples of Soul concert in New York on Wednesday evening October 4th.

- This is the first time we (the RRFF) are actually going to another country, with Norway. A very appropriate country for me, my second home.

With a Founding Board of Steven Van Zandt, Bono, Jackson Browne, Martin Scorsese and Bruce Springsteen, the RRFF was created in 2007 as an educational initiative created to address the challenges of an environment in which schools face cuts to arts funding. TeachRock is the Foundation’s national middle and high school curriculum initiative. 

Blues studies curriculum

The Blues Study Curriculum will take place at USN's Notodden campus, a town known as the ‘European Capital of the Blues’ and the site of Little Steven’s Blues School

The goal of the project is to develop the Blues studies into a full-fledged Bachelor degree, the first in Europe.  According to Geir Salvesen, Institute Director;

- The agreement has many possibilities. Research, projects and also the links into the Notodden Blues Festival and the European Blues Center and the Little Stevens Blues School in Notodden all part of this project. We are at the start of something exciting.

Geir Salvesen expressed that the university is honoured with this cooperation with Steven Van Zandt’s non-profit organization, and welcomes an expansion of cooperation in the future.

VIDEO: Backstage at the ‘Little Steven and Disciples of Soul’ concert.  From left: Chris Tuffli (Executive Director of the RRFF), Steven Van Zandt, Geir Salvesen (Head of Department of Visual and Performing Arts Education) and Faculty Director Bent Kristiansen

Community music

The RRFF has created over 100 education modules empowering teachers and their students using music and music history to stimulate learning across different disciplines that include social studies, history, and culture.

The combination of music and society is core to the RRFF teaching technique – known as ‘Community Music’. This is an important aspect of USN’s new Blues Studies Curriculum.

The fundamental idea behind the RRFF is that social aspects of learning are integrated with creative arts and education. Musical activity and knowledge are important tools in society for both individuals and groups as part of education.

VIDEO: Steven Van Zandt about learning the craft and finding the roots.  Steven goes on to discuss the European Blues Center, the Juke Joint Studio in Notodden, and a final word to his students at the Little Steven’s Blues School. - You have to practice until your hands are bleeding, and then after a while you can take a break, like me, Steven concludes laughing.

Historical roots

Building upon the cooperation with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, the University College of Southeast Norway’s Blues Curriculum will use historical and social elements in addition to the purely musical aspects. The studies will focus upon Blues history and background in a social contest that will challenge the students to use their knowledge and expertise.

- USN has strong faculties and curriculum within music didactic, traditional music and cultural studies.  It is our ambition to continue to develop the Blues Studies Curriculum into a complete Bachelor level degree through this cooperation with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and Steven Van Zandt,” concludes Institute Director Geir Salvesen.