Blue O'Connell, Singer/Songwriter

Classroom and Library Presentations                  Corporate Presentations  



As Artist-in-Residence in Albemarle County Schools ,I present interactive musical lessons that enhance student's English, Social Studies or History classes.  I have presented to classrooms ranging from first grade up through high school ages. All of my programs are suitable for library and community center audiences and appeal to all ages.
Some of the presentations I have done are:

African American Music in the Civil Rights Era

This interactive presentation focused on the Freedom Songs from the African American tradition. Most of the songs that were sung during the Civil Rights protest marches and demonstrations were songs from the Negro Spiritual and Gospel tradition. They are very powerful and meaningful songs that are still sung today. Songs like, "We Shall Overcome," "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize," "This Little Light of Mine," "We Shall Not Be Moved, " were among those we sang together. Here is a clip of "Calypso Freedom" which was adapted from the Jamaican "Banana Boat Song."  The purpose of such an uplifting, rhythmic song was to keep the people motivated and united in their vision to rise up against injustice.

Native American Music and Culture

This lesson enhanced a high school English classroom study of Native American poetry. As the students studied contemporary Native American poets, I taught them traditional Native American songs. Students were encouraged to sing along with PowerPoint slides showing lyrics with Native languages. Singing the songs of Native Americans allowed students to experience the emotional and spiritual life of the people in a way that reading about them would not have given. The simplicity and beauty of the music, being such a contrast to our fast pace technological lives, enhances student's understanding the important message of the American Indians.

Earth Day Celebration

This lesson was done for a first grade classroom but it can be modified for any grade. in this class, we sang songs about caring for the Earth, celebrating the Natural world.  We sang songs about recycling, reducing waste, keeping animal Habitats clean, contributing to our community and making a difference. Children learned to sing, "Happy Earth Day" (to the tune of "Happy Birthday") in ASL (American Sign Language). That was a lot of fun!  Channel 29 news visited out class and captured the spirit of our celebration that day!

Corporate Presentations                           

Being a musician and a cochlear implant  (CI) recipient is an interesting combination.  Technology is always seeking ways to improve the field of music with CI users.  Upon my CI activation (Jan. 2009), I worked with a music teacher to regain my musical perception. I have documented our work in an article that was published in The Hearing Journal in March of 2012.  This has led me to present to corporations in the hearing & medical industry to educate and inspire others of what can be done with music and CI recipients.

Below is a video of a presentation I gave at the National Conference of the American Academy of Otolaryngology in Washington, DC in September 2012.  My presentation tells the story of my profound hearing loss and my journey to hear again and achieve my dream of becoming a professional musician.