Local Rocker Teaches Future Musicians

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A South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is using his skills to teach the next generation of musicians. We stopped by a recital on the campus of Augustana University to listen in on the future of music.

It’s a little unusual to see a children’s concert of just one instrument, but for former Wakefield band member Geoff Gunderson, teaching classical guitar is a dream job.

“We’ve started them as young as four, but generally we start them from five to 12. Then once they’re in the program they can stay as long as they want,” Gunderson said. 

The program is called Childbloom, and started in Texas about 40 years ago.  Gunderson brought it to Sioux Falls in 2009 and has been actively teaching kids the finer points of strumming a guitar ever since.

“They learn to read music. They learn proper technique. Then if they go on to any other instrument, or just music in general, appreciation, it’s a great foundation for them,” Gunderson said. 

Students can start as early as four years old and continue lessons through high school. Rocky McKenzie was one of those preschoolers behind a guitar when he started.

“First day I walk in and I had no idea what he was saying” McKenzie said. 

Now, McKenzie performs in recitals, like the one held at Augie this past weekend.

Even at 12 years old, McKenzie can see why Gunderson has dedicated his life to teaching kids like him.

“He loves what he does. He does it because he likes spreading the art of music, I guess,” McKenzie said. 

“I love seeing the kids learn about music and the light bulbs go off. It just kind of warms my heart and it’s been really good. Beyond my expectations,” Gunderson said. ‚Äč

Gunderson says he has about as many students as he can handle right now, but is always willing to consider new pupils.



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