While photographing music teacher Steven Traugh last week for the San Diego People Project, I wanted to know if there were any exceptional young musicians in his elementary school classes.

He told me that I had to find and photograph Tyler Gange.

“(He’s) charming and an amazing musician — he plays bass. He would be so cool to interview. He picks something up and can just play it. He’s an amazing guy.”

So I tracked down Tyler at his mother’s house in Oceanside. An energetic, bespectacled fifth grader, Tyler told me all about the joy of music, his trip to a Paul McCartney concert and why he and his brother’s band fell apart before the talent show.

Name: Tyler Gange

Age: 11

Part of town: Oceanside

Occupation: Fifth grader at Garrison Elementary. “But I graduate on June 15.”

Are you excited about graduation

Yeah.

Why are you excited about it?

‘Cause I finally get to graduate from elementary school and go to middle school.

Where are you going to go to school?

Lincoln Elementary.

So why is that exciting?

Well, students and counselors have been coming over to our school lately telling us what it’s going to be like. So, there’s lots of sports and there’s music every day there. And, oh yeah, they have special field trips. So if you do really well in school and get good grades, they’ll give you these slips to go on special field trips. And you get to go to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, water parks and stuff like that.

And one of the field trips — they’re only taking 10 kids to do this — is going to Germany.

Wow.

Yeah.

So you’re gonna be gunning for that?

Yeah, I’m hoping I do really good so I can probably get to go to Germany.

What do you have to do to get to go to Germany?

Get really good grades.

OK, why don’t you tell me about how you started playing the bass.

Well I really wanted to play the guitar but they didn’t have that in music (class). All they had was the bass. So I went with that.

And then I really started getting into it and now I love playing it.

What other musicians influence you?

Paul McCartney. Really I just wanted to play an instrument that was kind of like the guitar. And that was the closest they had to it. I really wasn’t practicing for a while — I wasn’t playing it that much. Then, a few months ago — since I’ve been having a lot of concerts, I’ve had to practice a lot.

A few weeks ago, I had a concert at El Camino High School.

Do you find that as you get better at playing that you enjoy it more?

Yeah. I’ve been learning new things on the bass — new songs that are hard for me, but I really want to learn to play it. So, yeah, I’ve been — wait, what was the question.

I was asking if as you get better you start to enjoy the bass more.

Yeah, there’s been lots of songs that have been challenging for me but they’re really cool songs that I want to learn how to play so I come home and practice a little bit, then I go play with my friends and just when I get home from school the next day, it’s the same thing. Practice a little bit and then eventually, I’ve got it perfectly.

You said you went to a Paul McCartney concert. Do you want to tell me about it?

Yeah. It was really cool. It was gonna be my dad’s birthday the day after it. So we drove to it. It started at 8 o’clock but we got there at like 3 but there were plenty of things to do. There was this really big TV, like it was billboard size, and they put the Beatles Rock Band (video game) on it, so I got to play that for a little bit. Then they started letting people into the concert around 7, so we went in. We had seats in the back, but they were still pretty good seats for $50. … We began to get tired like an hour before the end, but then we snuck down to the front row, because the guards actually let us in. And we got to hear them play Live and Let Die. And there were fireworks on the stage and I could feel the fire of it and feel the shockwave of the fireworks that were shot out.

Do you play bass while your brother plays the drums. Do you guys ever play together?

Sometimes. But it doesn’t work out very well because we get into arguments and stuff. (At this point, Tyler’s mother, Traci interjects: “Yeah the band already broke up.”)

You guys were starting a band?

Yeah we tried to for the talent show but then we broke up. And we played our own things for the talent show.

What was the name of the band going to be?

I don’t know. We never thought of a name. That’s partly the reason we broke up, because we never agreed on a band name.

— SAM HODGSON

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