Keller Williams rocks at Avon Elementary
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado – It’s not every day that a musical talent like Keller Williams walks into your classroom, but apparently that’s one of the benefits of going to school down the road from the Vilar Center.
For the School of Rock students at Avon Elementary, it’s something that happens more frequently than most places. The school has hosted artists including Digable Planets, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and DJ Logic.
But Williams, a one-man show and virtuoso of the acoustic guitar, was probably the coolest visitor yet because the students had been rehearsing the song, “Hula Hoop to Da Loop,” off his new children’s album, “Kids,” which was released last year.
“The ‘Kids’ album was a long time in the making,” Williams said. “I got the Jerry Garcia and David Grisman album ‘Not for Kids Only.’ This was long before I had kids myself. Then, when I did have kids, more inspiration started coming around.”
No one was really sure what to expect from the visit, Williams included. But School of Rock instructor Jake Wolf (also the drummer for Grateful Dead tribute band Shakedown Street) said he was ready for anything, and so were his students.
The students had been watching and learning from the song’s video, which is worth checking out on YouTube, and features Williams standing in a field playing a variety of rudimentary instruments on digital “loopers” that gradually come together to make a really cool sound.
The song starts off with Williams playing an unmistakable beat with a couple “boom whackers” – plastic sticks used to make a hallow percussion sound.
Eight-year-old Mario Alvarez started the song off the same way, while nine-year-olds Emily Guerrero and Deagan Fahrney were playing miniature cellos, but picking at them like an upright bass.
Williams immediately got a look on his face that said, “Hey, these kids really know my song!” He made his way over and grabbed a couple of boom whackers for himself and went to work. Keller sang his portion of the tune into a microphone while the 50 or so kids were chiming in and clapping at the right moments, like they had played with him a million times.
“It was a great rendition,” Williams said. “They were all good – singing and clapping at the right time. It was really, really good.”
Williams was taken aback by the Avon Elementary School of Rock students, many of whom live below the national poverty level, playing music and clearly having fun doing it.
“This is super, super positive,” Williams said. “To have these kids learn my song, it’s pretty overwhelming. And to have a program like this, I think these kids are very lucky.
“This is way more fun than most schools,” Williams added. “To have a School of Rock program with Jake [Wolf], it’s pretty awesome to see kids excited about music. It’s definitely an honor to be a part of something like this.”
Avon Elementary Principal Melissa Rewold-Thuon said having guests like Williams is a great learning experience.
“I think it’s pretty powerful when they get to meet the people behind the music,” Rewold-Thuon said. “They’ve had a lot of good experiences with Jake [Wolf] bringing in different people. It’s an amazing opportunity, and they get so excited about learning music.”
Wolf has had a lot of artists stop by his School of Rock, but this was the first time the kids have been able to perform a song that is original to the musician.
“If every artist that came through our town – or any town – took an hour out of their way to empower these kids to make music, what has been gradually taken away from arts and music in schools could be put back,” Wolf said.
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