Jelly of the Month Club brings music to kids with online course

Men in red pants and colorful jackets play musical instruments onstage alongside people costumed as Peanuts characters.
Jelly of the Month Club at Knott’s Berry Farm with members of the Peanuts Gang onstage.
(WendyBird Fotos)
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Receiving letters from little kids after a performance of some kind is usually cute and can often be motivating and inspirational for adults. Such is the case for Michael De La Torre, a.k.a. Mic Dangerously, lead singer of the band Jelly of the Month Club.

“I have this beautiful box of these little nice notes, and I got one one day that said, ‘I’ve never seen somebody play the guitar in person before. I think I want to play guitar now.’ And I was just taken aback. Wow. You know 50, 75 years ago, there was a piano in every house and home entertainment wasn’t anywhere what it is now, right? Everybody knew a couple of songs at least, you know, and now some kids don’t even have instruments in their lives,” said Mic.

“That really stuck out to me. Like, not only is music education on the chopping block but this kid has never really seen a guitar [in person] before, man? Like, that’s heavy. So we got to do something here.”


That got the wheels turning even more than they already had been. Jelly of the Month Club is a band whose sound incorporates a range of genres — swing, ska, pop, hip-hop and more — and has been around since 2013. When Mic was asked to join as the guitarist and singer, the other band members were Dr. Todd Forman and Bud Gaugh (both from Sublime) and Bert Susanka (The Ziggens).. The band’s lineup has changed during its 10-year journey but, as Mic says, “The music and ethos has remained the same.”

With their brand of young, fun songs that fold in messages of friendship, working together and celebrating music, Jelly has performed at schools, theme parks, resorts and more — even a residency at Knott’s Berry Farm. But letters like the one above, and countless interactions with other educators (many in the band are or have been teachers), inspired the band to take on a new responsibility: children’s music education.

“Our efforts began a few years back by traveling around to schools and donating our time to perform free shows to help generate excitement for our cause,” said Mic. “We crafted our live show with songs about musical concepts [like] tempo, rhythm, notes, etc. A few of us were already music educators as well, but we felt that we simply could not reach enough students just traveling from school to school. We needed to figure something out to help launch our message and program.”

From that need to expand, the Jelly of the Month Club Music Academy (JMA) came online. Literally. The group came up with an interactive cartoon learning experience that uses colorful characters and sing-alongs that are “teacher-approved” to interact with, entertain and teach kids about music and interpersonal relationships.


“For almost three years straight now, we have worked tirelessly to create an animated version of our show, and it has now turned into a learning experience for kids much grander than we could have ever hoped or imagined,” said Mic. “This is the music education experience I wish I had as a kid. Music lessons taught by Disney-type characters with catchy songs and video game-esque features? It’s the perfect winning formula.”

And it is a formula. The group is not just singing to kids for fun — it has created a whole curriculum that can be used to augment any elementary school’s existing programs. Jelly members wrote, recorded, performed and even animated their first course: JMA — Music 101. The cartoon course includes play-alongs with digital instruments like the piano, xylophone, drum kits and even turntables. The instruments are in a corner of the screen and players use the keyboard to control them. It’s just another tool to foster a desire in kids to create.

“When we saw the learning tools specifically for music education — for TK [transitional kindergarten], kindergarten, first grade, second grade — that’s where I feel like it’s a little phoned in. There’s not nearly as much thought and creativeness and power behind it for those kids as it is when they get a little older,” said Mic.

For the record:

3:58 p.m. Dec. 21, 2022An earlier version of this story said Knott’s 2023 Peanuts Celebration begins Jan. 22. It begins Jan. 28. It also misspelled cartoonist Charles Schulz’s last name as Shultz.

The Jelly of the Month Club Academy hopes to expand and create even more courses. There are plans to incorporate drum/effect machines and, they hope, introduce the program to school districts. The band continues its wholesome concerts and will once again be at Knott’s Berry Farm for the park’s monthlong Charles Schulz Peanuts Celebration beginning Jan. 28.

A decade after the band started, Mic and his crew are still all about catering to the kids.

“They’re smarter than we give them credit for,” said Mic. “I’m sure a lot of parents are discovering this every day, and it’s important that we create an opportunity for them to have a quality first impression, a first handshake to music, as we like to say.”