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Children’s musical performance highlights weeklong workshop

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO Children’s performers “Cowboy Buck and Elizabeth” perform on stage with (from left) Thomas Wells, 7, Kaylee Vazquez, 10, and Scott Sneen, 7, capping a week-long Performing Arts Workshop for military children.

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On the eve of her Kids' Fest performance, Lainey Surles swung her head back and forth as she strummed an inflatable guitar to Queen's "We Will Rock You."

"This is showbiz," the 8 year old said after rocking out.

Highlighted by two performances at the annual JBLM Kids' Fest celebration April 4, five children participated in the weeklong Performing Arts Workshop taught by Paul "Cowboy Buck" Stierle and his wife Elizabeth.

The shows were part of the entertainment set at Kids' Fest inside the AFC Arena on Lewis Main.

The youth performers were able to get kids in the audience to sing and dance during the performance.

"That was really, really cool with all the attention," said Kalyee Vasquez, 10.

Parents and others who watched as they walked by were clapping along and the kids on stage enjoyed the experience.

"Pretty exciting," said Thomas Wells, 7. "I love having the people clapping."

Stierle has a life's worth of experience in singing and songwriting - 25 years of it while he traveled in the Pacific Northwest and 19 of them with his wife. Together they've done workshops and assemblies at schools, libraries and other community venues where they teach children to write songs and sing them.

Over the course of the last decade the Stierles have recorded 150 CDs with nearly 2,000 songs co-written with youths.

"Things like ‘Purple Pigs from a Planet called Pluto' to ‘Flying Fuzzy Purple Monkeys Took Over the World,'" Stierle said.

With the kids coming up with the lyrics and recording them, thinking outside of the box is the biggest key to the workshop.

"With songwriting, two plus two is not four," Stierle said. "If you were having to be two plus two is four, you're story would be boring."

While the kids didn't write the song by Queen, it still met the Medieval Times theme of Kids' Fest since the song was used in the movie "A Knight's Tale."

Stierle helped the kids write their own songs by using a four-step process: explorer, artist, judge and warrior.

"The explorer is the brainstorming part of writing," Stierle said, comparing it to Christopher Columbus going to the supermarket. "(The artist stage) is like building your pizza and you need all the ingredients you explored." The judging part requires looking at how a song can be improved and the warrior stage is where the song is performed.

Songs about Robin Hood and his very merry men, and being yourself were two of the songs written and rehearsed by the five youths in three days.

The kids took home a CD of the songs they wrote for their families to listen to.

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