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First Grade Blues Band Plays for hundreds of people at Street Fair!

Our first public gig in front of a large crowd was a major success! I’m just amazed how these 6 and 7 year old students completely ROCKED the house, considering the how the backing band had no idea who we were when we walked on stage! This was serious unscripted Rock and Roll, folks.

The Sunset Market is a street fair held weekly in Oceanside. The principal of our school (Garrison Elementary, Oceanside Unified School District) is Margie Oliver and for years she has had a booth at this street fair. The booth showcases the visual and performing arts that we focus on and she thought it would be a great idea to have us play at the fair<.

We had just played two talent shows at our school and were ready to try bigger gigs, but this was no small affair. There were at least 500 people there and we’d never played for strangers before. In addition, we were playing on the main stage, and only 30 minutes before we played, the house band agreed to let us onto the main stage and back us for our signature song,”Sweet Home Chicago”. They had no idea who we were!

Hopping onstage with a band of people you’ve never met before in an unfamiliar environment with no warmup can be a daunting task even for adult seasoned musicians. How these kids pulled it off is really beyond me.

Like I said, we never met the backing band until we got to the stage. As we were walking onstage, all I was able to mutter to the backing band was “It’s a 1-4-5 blues shuffle in the key of E with stops at every turnaround” and then it was showtime. The girls could’ve totally panicked and a million things could have gone wrong, but the kids rose to the occasion and shredded (note to old-timers: that means they did an excellent job).

Fortunately we had practiced for weeks, to the point where we could do the number in our sleep. Even so, I never expected it to go this well. I used to play a lot of clubs as a musician when I was younger, and I know from experience that hopping onstage so spontaneously usually has mixed results. Did I say I was amazed?!!

Another thing to keep in mind, we have 11 first grade students in our band, but as this was after school and we had little notice, only 5 were able to make it.  Moreover, 2 of the 5 students that showed up spoke no English when they entered the class, and one of them joined us only three months ago, straight from Japan! How cool is it that they are belting out the blues in English in front of capacity crowds with confidence? (Answer: WAY COOL!)

To learn about the academic value and pedagogy behind our work, see samples of our performances, and learn how we weave music into the teaching of reading, writing, and speaking, please visit our website Kids Like Blues.org.

Also read below about our upcoming gig at a real college campus! Dr. Leslie Mauerman, Professor of Education at Cal State San Marcos, is so impressed with our work and how it exemplifies best teaching practices that she is arranging for our band to play for her teaching credential candidates and staff at CSU in a proper performing hall! Can anyone say ROAD TRIP?! Yahoo!!!.

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Our Goal

Once we’ve used the music as a springboard to teach academic content standards, our goal is to take our work to completion by performing it onstage and recording it together in digital multitrack audio and video editing programs.

The students even learn how to operate programs like iMovie, Photoshop and Garage Band.

iMovie icon Photoshop icon GarageBand-icon

So far our performances have included playing a street fair, for a large audience of staff and students at the Cal State San Marcos College of Education and on local TV news and KPBS TV (watch these performances on our videos page). We're a real band, and we're learning and rocking! We have about ten songs in our repertoire.

For Your Further Interest

Check out these educational links, including Mr. Schwartz's approach to using fishing and hands-on science to motivate and engage students.

Social Connect

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Video: Sweet Home Chicago

Kids Like Blues Plays Sweet Home Chicago
Click video still to watch the Kids Like Blues Band music video, "Sweet Home Chicago."

Blues & Thematic Teaching


Click video still to view how our program works and details how we cover specific academic content standards.

In the News

We have been featured by US Dept. of Education, KPBS, and more. Click here to view what all the buzz is about.