Koo Koo Kanga Roo stops at Father Lacombe

“It’s about having them believe that something can come true, that a dream can come true.” -Laurie McIntosh

It was a hopping good time. Recently, the wacky duo of Bryan Atchison and Neil Olstad, better known as Bryan and Neil of Koo Koo Kanga Roo, stopped by Father Lacombe Catholic School to hang out and visit with the Grade 2 and 3 classes on their way between shows in Calgary and Edmonton.

Laurie McIntosh, Grade 2 teacher at the school, said that having the group come to visit was an incredible experience for her students.

“It’s about having them believe that something can come true, that a dream can come true.”

While this was only a short stop between shows for Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Atchison said they plan to return to Lacombe at some point and play a full show for the students. Based out of Minneapolis, this is the first time the duo is touring in Canada.

Before Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Olstad and Atchison were in a larger band modeled after Hootie and the Blowfish. Deciding to try something different, the pair split from the band and formed the smaller two-piece group, Koo Koo Kanga Roo.

Interestingly, the duo never intended their music for be for children. But, after seeing them perform at small shows in bars, adult fans started encouraging the band to perform for their children as well, said Atchison. He added the songs of Koo Koo Kanga Roo were originally meant to entertain friends of he and Olstad. He added that the silliness and childishness of the group’s songs were simply a gimmick to help the band’s success and it just happened to also make them attractive to children.

“Our motto is, ‘you have to be really good or really different’,” said Atchison. “We’re not good at being good, so we try to be different.”

Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s YouTube dance-along videos, through which students at Father Lacombe Catholic School came to know the group, were created with similar thoughts in mind. Atchison said the group recorded these videos with a low-quality camcorder simply in order to further promote itself.

When McIntosh discovered the duo, she was looking for music that she could play to her students in class. She added that she wanted it to be a kind of music that would be accessible and affordable for her students outside of the classroom as well.

McIntosh said Koo Koo Kanga Roo distributes their music on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis, which she found very interesting. She also said that she thought that the group’s dance-along videos would be great for ‘brain-breaks’ when her students needed a break from sitting in their desks and working during class.

After discovering some of Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s dance videos last year, McIntosh played the music for her class and soon discovered how much the students enjoyed it.

“The kids loved the music so much that eventually if I put on any other kind of brain-break, they would protest.”

As such, McIntosh and her students decided to write thank-you letters to the group. After receiving the letters, Atchison and Olstad contacted them to set up a Skype session. Since then, the group has stayed in contact with the class through McIntosh.

The relationship between the classes and Koo Koo Kanga Roo is unique. Atchison said that last year’s Grade 2 class at Father Lacombe was the first to ever contact the band directly.

McIntosh said she was happy to integrate music into the classroom more and added she thinks its educational potential is often overlooked. She said it can teach more than just the art itself, but is also useful in other classes; like learning new words in language arts or learning about patterns in mathematics.

“I can incorporate them and their music into all different subject areas,” said McIntosh.