Meet Your Instructor

Evo Bluestein

Evo Bluestein’s childhood home often hosted an array of America’s great bearers of traditional music culture: Pete, Mike, and Peggy Seeger, Bessie Jones, Jean Ritchie, Elizabeth Cotten, Tommy Jarrell, Dewey Balfa, Dennis McGee, Doc Watson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, to name just a few.

After playing for dances throughout the U.S., Evo developed his own series of specially designed school programs, sharing the joy of dance, and in the process, helping kids improve their social behavior. The responses and results of Evo’s in-school programs became a great success.

Over the past 30 years, Evo has crafted his first-hand training and his extensive knowledge of folk songs, dances, games, and instrumental prowess, into week-long residencies for thousands of California schoolchildren – passing on a rich variety of authentic cultural experiences and building community.

A singer, instrumentalist, clogger, and (square)dance caller, Evo is also the originator of the Evoharp® and Sparrowharp® autoharps. These quality instruments, designed for adults and (the Sparrowharp®) for younger students have become popular worldwide. 

Evo hosts the contra, southern, and English dances in and around California’s Central San Joaquin Valley. He is the author of the recent book Road to Sweet’s Mill, about the development of the West Coast folk music scene in the 1960s and ’70s, a project that was partnered with and printed through the California State University of Fresno, a.k.a., Fresno State University.

Evo also provides one-on-one music lessons via Zoom meetings to students. Visit EvoBluestein.com for additional information.

Here are a few testimonials from educators praising Mr. Bluestein’s musical training programs.

from teachers

Thanks for offering this program to students. It benefited them on so many levels, and we all really enjoyed it.

Kids, teachers and parents truly enjoy all that you do! The joy of music and knowledge you share will stay with them always., We hope to see you again soon. –Manchester Gate School

You bring joy to so many who don’t have a lot of joy in their lives.–Karen, Del Mar School

Every time I looked around at the children , they had big smiles on their faces. –3rd grade teacher, Buena Vista School

We video-taped the Friday performance and saw a school of happily enriched children. –Sarah Glover

Quite a few of our staff came up to me saying how wonderful the dance weeks were and truly valuable for the kids. They really “get it” that it isn’t just the dancing. You definitely are a part of our school.

Thank you for the wonderful gift you gave us when you brought Evo Bluestein. All of our children grew so much during our time with him, and the barn dance was a blast! –Lisa Holland, Pershing School

My fifth graders were excited every morning with the prospect of getting to dance with the “famous Mr. Bluestein.” Every once in a while someone will start humming Soldier’s Joy. I eagerly look forward to another wonderful week next year. –D. Burns, Del Mar School

My students enjoyed the music and dance week and grew so much from the beginning of the week to the end. See you next year. –Ms Campbell, Buena Vista School

I can’t believe how much fun you packed into a 30-minute session. I have received positive feedback from all grade levels.
–teacher, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno

“I have found that the folk dance week is like a final evaluation of my student’s growth for the year. It clarifies that what I’ve been teaching; listening skills, following directions, courtesy and respect, have come full circle. Your program allows them to demonstrate these and other skills in an environment and setting that is not a part of their day-to-day living. They are more focused in your residency and they also see and understand math at work, math and music relationships and they create harmony as well as fun.” Mrs. Elkins, 4th grade teacher

My students greatly enjoyed your program and I did see beneficial changes in my students. One example is that I have two students who consistently had problems with each other since the beginning of the year. One day in dance, you unknowingly paired them as partners. While they were not thrilled about it, they danced together, practicing the rule of courtesy. Later that day, I overhead one of the students gently correct the other student during a class activity and the other student graciously accepted the help. I do not believe this interaction would have occurred prior to dance class.

It has been a pleasure having you at the school these couple of days. The students are really enjoying themselves and those students, who are troubled, seem to enjoy it as well. Other teachers are mentioning that the students talk about the dances in class, I have also heard them singing the songs as a group. I hope this exposure to different folk dances interest the parents as well. I look forward to a big outcome on Friday. Once again thank you for bringing your knowledge to a small community.

Priscilla Uresti, Parlier Jr. High

Thank you for bringing music, dance, joy, and the opportunity to directly teach social skills to our students.
Ms. Mahfoud

Dear Evo, we all thank you so much for the fun and educational workshop you gave. We appreciate you being at our school, and sharing the joy of dance and history with the kids. Thank you so much, Cheryl Schellenberg, teacher, Edison

“My students develop greater listening skills and concentration, math skills, historical perspectives, and cooperative behavior. Their improved behavior is noted after returning to class. I have found the dance residency deepens my students understanding of important math concepts. My students are learning social graces of a historical era in which courtesy and manners were common. My students develop greater self-esteem from knowing that they can be well-mannered and courteous.” Laurie Piazza, second grade teacher

My students and I had such a good time with you last week. When I first told them they would be dancing like the upper grades, I heard nothing but moans and groans. When the week was over, they were truly sorry to see you go. You can tell from their notes how much they enjoyed your visit. I put a special note on top. This student is an extremely difficult child. His home life is horrendous. He bullies others and has been suspended many times, he is very bright, but extremely dyslexic. He hates to write, but he was thrilled to let you know how he felt about you. He rarely lets people see his heart. Thank you so much for doing what you do. In these days of test scores, writing samples and accountability, you remind us of the simple pleasures of life.” Karen Westersund, Teacher, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno

All groups, K-6, enjoyed Mr. Bluestein’s training. Students take a bit of Mr. Bluestein’s perspective, make it their own, and put it to immediate practice. All schools should have this residency. F. Cogan, Teacher, John Wash Elementary School, Fresno, CA

My special day class students were enthralled by the program. This is quite an accomplishment for any entertainer. The program was well put together and I felt there were no dull moments. We want more. I can’t think of a more successful program. Thank everyone involved in bringing this program to our school. Patty Merigian, Special Day Class – functional skills, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno, CA

Evo, everyone enjoyed your American folk program. We need to plan again for next year! Roz Tampone, Principal, John S. Wash Elementary School, Fresno, CA

The program modeled rhythm, pattern, cooperation, partner communication skills. The children saw culture being respected and valued! Very nice feeling generated among students. Renee Larson, Teacher, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno

You’re a terrific instructor. The students learned so much and they enjoyed the dancing. Thanks, Mrs. Melgarejo, Teacher, McCabe Elementary School, Mendota, CA

I really liked the fact that each group learned different dances and songs, then they were brought together to see each other Friday. The explanations of the origins of songs and dances were interesting and meaningful to my students. It sparked discussion in class. I eagerly look forward to another wonderful week next year. D. Burns, Teacher, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno, CA

I loved watching our kids perform the songs and dances you taught them. Your program is a very important part of their educational experience! Nancy Nelson, Teacher, John S. Wash Elementary School, Fresno, CA

This was a wonderful program for all of our students. My class really enjoyed your visit. You were marvelous. Joyce Grothman, Teacher, John S. Wash Elem. School, Fresno, CA

“This has been such a meaningful experience for our students. It was amazing to see the transformation of the 5th and 6th graders from disdainful, belligerent social contact to purposeful, enjoyable work through dance and music. Huge accolades to you for your talent and your teaching. We look forward to next year. What a thrill to see so many students learning, laughing and having fun. I honor your life’s work and encourage you to keep at it. You are making a wonderful difference in the lives of children as well as teachers.” Terry Marinaro, Vice Principal, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno, CA

“The children loved it, to say the least. The teachers loved it. If not for presentations like yours, dance and music may be lost in the schools. It takes people like you to rekindle the happiness that music and dance bring. From personal experience, 19 years of teaching, I have NEVER enjoyed a guest teacher as much as you. The Arts committee hopes that our PTC will find the funds to have you back next year.”Teacher, Del Rio Elementary School, Bakersfield, CA

“I thought we were going to have a week long folk dance residency, what I didn’t expect was a geography residency, a history residency, a cross culture residency, and a cooperation and respect residency as well. We had our first meeting re writing an art grant for next year and you were at the top of the list of things we will continue.” Martin St. John, Principal/Superintendant. Lakeside School, Los Gatos, CA

“The courtesy and respect that is part of dance is so important for our kids and society…Thank you!” Susan Schmale, Teacher, Susan B. Anthony School, Fresno, CA

“I want to thank you again for such a fantastic week of folk dancing! I
don’t know what could top this, so I am calling this the highlight of
our school year.” David Warken, Principal, Ukiah, CA

“I just got an email from the PTA parent who books all the assemblies, shows, etc. and she asked if we could just make your dance week an annual event and a new tradition at Mariemont. Of course I said yes because I can only see the kids getting better and better at this as the years progress (and the teachers too).” Linda Dismukes, Principal, Mariemont Elementary School, Sacramento, CA

“My kids have been TOTALLY enjoying it and began dancing with each other last night, showing off all that they learned. I love that they are getting this experience. It is fabulous”. Cecily Ruttenberg, parent, Gateway Private School, Santa Cruz, CA

“I know that exposing students to music and dance enhances their school experience and brings joy to their lives. I thank you again, for sharing your gifts with our students. Lots of very positive changes are happening at Tarpey, and your dance week is one of them.” Jerry Grieco, Teacher, Tarpey Elementary School, Clovis, CA
I just wanted to thank you for the week of dance you provided for us. My little fourth graders really did look forward to it and I was pleasantly surprised by one hard core case I had who really opened up to the dancing. It was wonderful to see him show a spark of interest in something. Carl Aamodt, 4th grade Teacher Del Paso Manor Elementary, Scaramento, CA

You are avery talented teacher because you exude warmth, kindness, and fun. The kids love you. Linda Guerrero, Teacher, Wilson Elementary School, Fresno, CA

My friend and I had such a wonderful time dancing last night. I felt such a joyous spirit coming from everyone! It was so much fun being taught dance steps by 4th and 5th graders (and you). I laughed when one of the students said to me, “I think you’re FINALLY getting the hang of it!” I loved every smile, all the sweat, the music and the marvelous essence of community. How impressive that you could teach so many students all those dances in such a short amount of time. What a gifted teacher you are! Thank you for a remarkable evening.
Shivon Lavely, Teacher, Lincoln Elementary School, Exeter, CA

The students were thrilled! Music and dance, the universal language ties all cultures together as one. Best yet, having professional teachers to teach it right. Our leader should be highly commended for bringing such an awesome program! Carolyn Patterson, McKinnon Elementary School, Salinas, CA

“Everyone had a blast Friday night at the barn dance. Teachers, parents and students were extremely complimentary about how much the students learned and how excited they were to be able to show what they learned. Thanks again for all your hard work and dedication.” Cheryl Spetrino, Principal, Carl Hankey Elementary, Mission Viejo, CA

“It was quite a night and I think that the grins on people’s faces told it best. The kids were so proud of themselves and it was truly a packed event!” Donna Yokomizo, Principal, Hidden Hills Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

“We would like to thank you again for bringing the Folk Music/Dance Program to Del Rio School. The children loved it, to say the least. The teachers loved it. If not for presentations like yours, dance and music may be lost in the schools. It takes people like you to rekindle the happiness that music and dance bring. From personal experience, 19 years of teaching, I have NEVER enjoyed a guest teacher as much as you. The Arts committee hopes that our PTC will find the funds to have you back next year.” Teacher, Del Rio Elementary School, Bakersfield, CA

“This fit in very well with our social studies area in 5th grade – American History and the variety of people that have contributed to our country. The sequence the dances were taught made it possible to learn five dances in five days!” Linda Judd, Teacher, Buena Vista Elementary School, Walnut Creek, CA

All groups, K-6, enjoyed Mr. Bluestein’s training. Students take a bit of Mr. Bluestein’s perspective, make it their own, and put it to immediate practice. All schools should have this residency. F. Cogan, Teacher, John Wash Elementary School, Fresno, CA

The comments and evaluations that we received from the teachers after your residency were gratifying and fulfilling. You are well received by all–students and the teachers.
Mary Ellen McIlrath, Executive Director, Arts Council of Tulare County, CA

The week was great. Evo relates well with the kids. The kids were proud of what they learned. Parents were very impressed. Call us next year! Kathy Towle, Director, Fairmont Private School Fresno, CA

The sessions were very well received and the evening concert on Friday was a wonderful culminating experience for all. The students benefited greatly from your visit. Thanks for sharing with our kids. Dede Nibler, Director, Roosevelt School of the Arts, Roosevelt High School, Fresno, CA

We video taped last Friday’s performance. I saw a school full of happily enriched children! Thanks for once again inspiring the Lakeside children and infusing them with the joy of music and dance. Fred & Sarah Glover, Parents, Lakeside Community School, Los Gatos

My special day class students were enthralled by the program. This is quite an accomplishment for any entertainer. The program was well put together and I felt there were no dull moments. We want more. I can’t think of a more successful program. Thank everyone involved in bringing this program to our school. Patty Merigian, Special Day Class – functional skills, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno, CA

Thank you for having that one guy teach us how to dance. That is very fun. I think it is cool how he knows how to do all of those neat dances. I think it is going to be fun to be in an assembly and actually dancing in front of all the lower graders.
Kelly Kosmosky, Student, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno, CA

Evo, everyone enjoyed your American folk program. We need to plan again for next year! Roz Tampone, Principal, John S. Wash Elementary School, Fresno, CA

“I was amazed at Mr. Bluestein’s ability to keep the students focused and controlled for an hour. Also at how fast they learned the Virginia Reel. The students loved the rhythm, songs and dancing–they loved it all!” Carol Lovell, Teacher (2nd grade) Del Rio Elementary School, Bakersfield, CA

The program modeled rhythm, pattern, cooperation, partner communication skills. The children saw culture being respected and valued! Very nice feeling generated among students. Renee Larson, Teacher, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno

You’re a terrific instructor. The students learned so much and they enjoyed the dancing. Thanks, Mrs. Melgarejo, Teacher, McCabe Elementary School, Mendota

I appreciate the enthusiasm Evo generated in the students of all ages. Thanks again. We had a great week! Sharon Swanson, Teacher, Sierra View Elementary School, Madera, CA

My class and I really enjoyed the week. I wish we had more time. The performance, the variety of activities, the instruments and the fun songs were effective.
Mrs. Jolliff, Sierra View Elementary School, Madera, CA

I really liked the fact that each group learned different dances and songs, then they were brought together to see each other Friday. The explanations of the origins of songs and dances were interesting and meaningful to my students. It sparked discussion in class. I eagerly look forward to another wonderful week next year. D. Burns, Teacher, Del Mar Elementary School, Fresno, CA

I loved watching our kids perform the songs and dances you taught them. Your program is a very important part of their educational experience! Nancy Nelson, Teacher, John S. Wash Elementary School, Fresno, CA

This was a wonderful program for all of our students. My class really enjoyed your visit. You were marvelous. Joyce Grothman, Teacher, John S. Wash Elem. School, Fresno, CA

My shy students were definitely not reserved during this experience! The whole class was engaged! Thanks so much! Cynthia Robey, Teacher, Buena Vista School, Walnut Creek, CA

“As always, your weeks here were just awesome! We have had so many comments from parents as well as the kids on how much they enjoyed the Barn Dance. I think this year’s event was the best one yet. Thanks again for giving our kids such a rewarding, enjoyable, life-giving experience! Barbara McNamer, Teacher, Las Juntas Elementary School, Martinez, CA