News Pop / Rock 23/04/2007

Albany Rock Band, The Velmas, Helps Local Kids Learn

New York, NY. (Top40 Charts/ City Canyons Records) - Heather Callagan, a long-time fan of the popular Albany, NY, band, The Velmas, and a sixth-grade English teacher at Iroquois Middle school in Niskayuna, NY, has been the using the band's music and lyrics in her lessons for the last few years in an unusual, but effective way, commencing with teaching and ending with a rock concert. This year, the event will take place at the Middle School on Friday, May 4 at 9:30 a.m.

"It helps the kids to see that writing is important outside of the classroom. It allows the students to feel a real sense of purpose," says Callagan. "And they have a lot of fun in the process."

Callagan has her students read and analyze lyrics from select songs from The Velmas, and then write a "critical review" of the music. "Whether they actually like the music or not, I try to get them to give a fairly-written personal review." Callagan reports that the budding music reviewers approach their assignments with enthusiasm.

Capping off the lessons, Callagan invites the band to perform a private show for the entire sixth grade.

"It's a blast playing for these kids. They've been listening to and studying our music, so when we show up, a 'real live band', and play for them in person, the energy is amazing," says Mike "Harvey" Grosshandler, guitarist/vocalist for The Velmas. "We play a bunch of songs, taking requests as we go, and then we pause to answer any questions the kids have. They usually ask about our influences, our instruments and what our favorite TV shows are. It's an awesome, rewarding experience."

The Velmas are signed to City Canyons Records, an independent record label based out of Manhattan. Their City Canyons debut, STATION, is available on iTunes and other digital distributors internationally and through CD Baby, and select brick-and-mortar stores. The Velmas have shared the stage with such national acts as Soul Asylum, Collective Soul, Vertical Horizon, Moe and Winger, and have been voted the "No 1 Best Local Alternative Band" in the Capital Region by readers of Metroland (

For additional information on The Velmas or other City Canyons artists helping local kids learn, contact The Velmas via City Canyons Records at

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