On Music Tours for Kids

When I was in high school (a long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I had the great privilege of participating in music tours organized by the school’s vocal and instrumental directors. Lucky enough to be based in London, these tours took us to Germany, Spain, Denmark … They are undoubtedly among my favorite teenage memories. I can’t tell you much about the performances, what we played, or where we played – my memories are of the social times with friends in hostels and on trains, searching for restaurants, and flirting with strangers. Important learning experiences for a teenager.

Fast forward many years … I just returned from a week in the UK where I organized a music tour for a group of students from the School of Rock. Several kids are seasoned world travelers, but many obtained their first passports for the trip. They performed 7 gigs in 7 days, were treated like “real” rock stars, and had the chance to see quite a few towns and cities in England – not to mention make friendships with local musicians and truly experience another culture.

The grou pays hommage to the Beatles at Abbey Road.

The group pays hommage to the Beatles at Abbey Road. The kids are flanked by music teachers extraordinaire: Jim Love and Eric York

It was a great experience for the kids (their travel blog here), and one I’m glad to have helped provide. I relied heavily on friends from the past who helped with coordination and logistics. But in the end, all I can do is sigh with admiration for Georgia and Richard Bassett – my music directors from high school who did this every year with over 100 kids and a full orchestra (yes, we traveled with tubas). Now that the exhaustion and jet lag have begun to wear off, I am left with true awe for their dedication to students.

Here’s to the teachers who make a difference in our lives ….

And PS – if anyone knows how to forward this to the Bassetts in England, I’d appreciate it.


Wow! Cory Hite (with her band the Tigermen) is a semi-finalist in the SchoolJamsUSA national battle of the bands:

SchoolJam USA is based on the SchoolJam program developed and initiated by MusikMedia LLC in Germany. The program was created to promote the use of popular music in the traditional school setting.

NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, brought the initiative to the United States in 2007 as a pilot program called SchoolJam Texas. The program was so successful in Texas that in 2009/2010 we launched the first national SchoolJam USA battle of the bands.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE … go to the SchoolJam voting site and register by filling out some information (don’t worry – they keep all info private, no spam) and vote …



Vote every day for the month of November!

(For more info about Cory’s music, visit coryhite.com)

Best MJ tribute …

moonwalkWith all the maudlin, tasteless, sensationalist coverage of Michael Jackson’s death … I was pleased to log onto Eternal Moonwalk – a global collaborative that pays tribute to the King of Pop. Young and old from around the world strut – backwards – to pay homage to Jackson with an endless moonwalk across the globe.

Rock 101

I’m a big fan of the Paul Green School of Rock. Paul Green has received a lot of publicity via School of Rock and the somewhat more accurate documentary, Rock School. But no one has really talked about the serious pedagogy underlying the “manifesto” that Green prints on every program and flyer he sends out. The premise is simple: present kids with a tough challenge that they’ll want to achieve. In the SOR example, it’s to learn to play (mostly by ear) instruments in order to reproduce well-known rock music. The students rehearse, both in private lessons and in group practice sessions. Then they put on a show. All the “bands” are fluid, so kids have to learn to play with a lot of other musicians of varying age and ability – no matter what they’re assigned. The music ranges from simple (Kiss, Ramones) to complex (Queen, Led Zeppelin).

I can personally attest for all that it’s done for my kid. She states frequently that she’d rather be at rock school than “regular school” (gulp). But who could blame her? When you’re 13, learning to sing Sweet Emotion and play bass on Welcome to the Jungle can really seem much more relevant than learning algebra.

But when I think of all the serious learning that goes on, I encourage her rockin’ more than discourage it. With meaningful goals (learn the music) attached to an authentic outcome (perform in a show), kids are engaged, solve problems, tackle challenges – all that we want for them in a learning situation. Now how to apply that to “regular” school … ?