Wesley’s Success

tigerYesterday, my student Wesley’s little “Folsom Prison Blues” video got almost 100,000 views on YouTube, and his parents and I were flooded with attention from the media. It’s been exciting, disorienting, and a little worrisome.

The internet, especially, is such a brutal force—and by the internet, I mean the way people act on the internet. The general public, from the anonymity of their offices and bedrooms, would just as soon rip someone to shreds as shower them with affection.

Getting all this press is like cuddling with a tiger. It’s licking my face! It loves me!

Or is it just tasting me?

Comments 23

  1. Sorry to hear that some people are being negative about what is absolutely an awesome video. If they can’t appreciate Wesley’s skill, then I wish they would just shut up.

    That said, I am curious to hear more about the song selection. He plays “Folsom Prison Blues” very well, but I wonder if he should be playing it at that age. I haven’t got an opinion on that yet, and I’m oscillating between both sides.

  2. Awesome support! Letting kids follow their passion is totally revolutionary! The song content is rough, but real. Wesley will understand what he understands and it sounds like he has support to explore the stuff he doesn’t understand.

    The damage of not letting him sing and play the songs would be life lasting.

    Take care with the media attention. In my experience they’re “tasting you”.

  3. The internet has really changed music. It really allows people instant success if they hit open something. Look at the video about united breaking guitars. For budding musicians, youtube is the way to go!

    1. Hi Bill,

      Wow. As I just told my girlfriend, “That’s one step away from THE MAN!”

      I’ll be sure to pass your message on to Wesley’s mom. It’ll be printed out and framed over his little bed, I have no doubt.

      Little gestures like this make a huge impact on kids. Thanks for taking the time.


  4. He was fantastic! I mean, he’s 5 years old…so the song content/selection was ironic and thus FUNNY, but Wesley sang and played with confidence and he looked totally comfortable up on the stage.

    I truely hope he keeps up the hard work…& that the haters don’t get to him or his parents. I think it’s fantastic that he’s been given the opportunity to perform and learn.

  5. I applaud both Wesley’s skill and talent as well as the bravery of you and his parents in letting him be himself. I look forward to what he might offer us in the future, and I wish we lived nearer to you so that my sons could have a teacher so willing to allow who they are to come through on stage. Just make sure that tiger tastes you and not him…

  6. Hey Rob,

    Awesome video and great work as an instructor. We also teach music and it’s satisfying to see you inspire your students like this.

    Don’t mind any of the haters on YouTube. It happens and is pretty common. People feel they look taller by stepping on someone else’s shoes.

    If you don’t mind, we’ll post the video to our facebook page where a lot of our instructors converse with each other. They’d love to see it.

    Keep up the great work, Rob!


  7. This is not something I’d be too worried about, The Internets (especially the YouTubes) are crawling with haters. You can’t help it.

    I’m just hoping that Wesley doesn’t get wind of any of it. It was a great performance and made me happy watching it, but the ego blow could be pretty harsh. Isn’t there a way you can disable comments on YouTube?

    Just a thought and keep up the good work,

  8. For what it’s worth, I followed the link to your YouTube collection and viewed many of the other students’ clips. I was really impressed overall, and am inspired to pick up my guitar more often.

  9. This is amazing. I LOVED his rendition, his courage to get in front of everyone and sing. My eight year old son used to just pick up the guitar and make amazing music. Now he’s going through a real perfectionist streak, and hasn’t picked it up in over a year. It breaks my heart! I showed this link to him and he loved it too. Who knows, maybe Wesley will inspire him to make music again! GO WESLEY!!!

  10. I’m Wesley’s mom and want to thank everyone who has posted. It’s been a joy reading your comments after slogging through some of the responses left on other — I’ll just say “less reputable” — sites.

    Thanks again!


  11. You came up with the perfect analogy for fame. I wouldn’t focus too much on the negative comments. I think people don’t give kids enough credit these days. We don’t need to protect them from absolutely everything. I am sure some of the lyrics are over his head, but if he loves Johnny Cash, let him play what he loves. He is way more likely to stick with it if he enjoys it.

    You are helping kids to express their talents and instill a lifelong love of music. That just can’t be bad. Criticizing someone else’s creative expression while anonymously hiding behind a computer is easy to do, expressing yourself in front of lots of people takes courage. I applaud the courage displayed by you and your students. I would rather have a world full of creatives than critics.

  12. I saw the video on Youtube and man that kid is cute.

    I know what you’re saying though. It’s really tough sometimes to convince yourself to release something like that to the social internet world for chance that you’ll get ripped to pieces.

    I think that for the most part, the video is being well-received however. Great job!

  13. I absolutely adore the video and have been showing it to all my friends and coworkers. Wesley’s just brimming with his own personal style, and he seems so comfortable on stage.

    As for song choice, I think it’s great. It’s kind of like how people always criticize any book or series that kids really love, because they have such specific ideas of what kids are supposed to like. But if a kid finds something he or she can be really passionate about–especially if it’s something that can bring life-long joy–then encouragement is the best route.

    Congratulations on your obviously successful teaching!

  14. I saw Wesley’s video through Facebook, and I LOVE IT! What a brave and talented child! Thank you for sharing it.
    As for media attention, very well said. Hopefully the rougher winds of internet fame will blow over quickly.

  15. Just wanted to say , kudos for working w/ the wee ones.. hes just the cutest thing

    As a child/music photographer I love photographing them.. too bad hes not in ny.. but if wesley ever decides to tour…;-)

    Keep up your great work, 😉 You can tell that your students love to learn from you;-)

Leave a Reply