Kids involved with the world of music tend to excel in countless other areas. So why is the excitement of most school music classes generally limited to an instrument as fantastically boring as the recorder?

"Yes, [area] schools do offer a certain amount of music, but it's nowhere near as prevalent as it once was," Mikey Baker tells SFR. "Regardless, it's definitely not the same as our students getting the help to put together their own bands."

Baker is an instructor at the Summer Rock Camp and kids' Rock School at local music outlet Candyman Strings & Things. 

Entering their third year, the music programs, devised by Candyman co-owner Cindy Cook and local musician Ross Hamlin, provide informal instruction for youngsters interested in writing and performing music in an ensemble setting. Staffed by such local talent as Hamlin, Peter Williams, Pablo Champion and Baker, Rock School/Rock Camp have become almost essential options for young Santa Fe music lovers who simply won't (or don't) get the same type of music education elsewhere.

Each program has certain benefits. Rock School is an after-school, couple-of-hours affair, which lasts six weeks and culminates in a showcase performance at Sol Santa Fe Stage & Grill.
Rock Camp, which takes place in the summer, runs five hours per day and is a tad more intensive. Students hold a final performance at Sol as well, and also get the chance to record a few songs at Stepbridge Studios and take part in on-air interviews at local radio station KBAC.

"They really like the radio part," Baker says.

The Candyman offers a limited number of scholarships for young rockers who have to slay on a budget or couldn't otherwise attend. (Donations are totally welcome at
Surely, a few wealthy Santa Feans are willing to help kids from low-income families learn to rock.
Private lessons and sitting on the foot of the bed playing along with the stereo may be the old standbys, but no one can deny the benefit of actual working musicians providing local youth the structure, resources and know-how to form their own music projects.

Ten-year-old Casey Chandler enters her second year with Rock School next month, and is already champing at the bit to get back to rockin'. "I've always loved music and singing, but performing in front of people was kind of terrifying for me," Chandler says. "Now that I've been working with [Rock School], I'm not afraid anymore, and I learned that, when you're not afraid, you can do pretty much anything…and people will listen."

So kids, bug your parents. Let them know that you want to learn to rock out. And parents, be cool. Bands are a constructive, productive way for your kids to gain self-esteem, make lifelong friends and look totally cool in the eyes of their friends. Everybody wins when everybody's rocking.

"I've often said that music is the single greatest form of human expression, and to foster that with our students has been incredible," Baker says.

Rock School
March 10- April 21
Candyman Strings & Things
851 St. Michael's Drive