Paul Wellman

Ever catch your kid rocking out to the latest radio hit, strumming a tennis racquet, and pretending to be playing for legions of loyal fans? Now, thanks to Jensen Guitar and Music Co., they can drop that sports equipment and learn to play an actual musical instrument. The longtime music emporium is giving kids like this an outlet for their musical fantasies by holding a summer rock ‘n’ roll guitar camp for aspiring musicians ages 10-14. There is no prior tennis racquet- or guitar-playing experience necessary to take part.

The camp, which will be held at Jensen Main Stage, will be broken down into four full-day, weeklong sessions. The initial three sessions are for kids who are new to the guitar. The first round has passed, but two of these introductory camps remain, taking place July 9-13 and July 16-20. The final session goes down July 23-27 and is an advanced program that requires at least one year of guitar-playing experience. Kids who sign up for the beginner session will receive an EMD-brand guitar to keep and those who attend the advanced program will receive a grab bag filled with a mixture of guitar accessories. Jensen has held similar three-day camps in the past, but this will be the first featuring full-day immersion. “We have a lot of young people interested in playing music and the school programs seem to be fading,” store owner Chris Jensen said of his decision to start this camp. “Parents are looking for ways to get their kids involved in music.”

At the end of the weeklong camps, kids will take part in a live performance their families can attend. Kids will also record a song of their choice and be given a copy on CD. The young musicians will be given a choice of making up their own song or learning a cover-likely one with simple chord progressions like “Smoke on the Water” or “Wild Thing.” Jensen, who has years of recording experience, will show them how to work in a recording studio.

“The main goal is to foster a love of music and love of learning to help kids feel comfortable with themselves as musicians,” said camp instructor Alan Viscarra. “We want to build confidence and help them learn how to work with other people.”

Participants will also be taught the different aspects of performing, recording, and jamming with a heavy focus on how to be in a band. There also will be an in-house drummer to play along. “The kids will learn from us, but will also be able to learn from each other,” Viscarra said. How to book shows, what it’s like to tour, and how to form a band will also be in the camp lesson plans.

Viscarra, once a student at Jensen himself, has toured across the U.S. and Europe with the hardcore punk band Gather. He also has a masters degree in education, a teaching credential from UCSB, and currently substitute teaches at local schools. The aspiring music mentor began playing guitar as an 11-year-old and started playing with other kids at age 13. He stresses that it is important to begin learning the guitar at an early age.

Jensen cites the presence of Viscarra as a main reason for the creation of such an in-depth camp because his musical history and background in education allow him to “teach the whole package.” It’s an opportunity not often afforded to musically obsessed youngsters, and one not to be missed.


RockCamp takes place Monday through Friday, July 9-13, 16-20, and 23-27. Each session will hold 15 kids, costing $350 each. To sign up or for more information, email Chris Jensen at or visit

Photo above- Progressive Failure is one of the bands slated to play at Jensen Guitar RockCamp’s graduation day.


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