Band students from Key Largo School perform during the Coral Shores homecoming parade. DOUG FINGER/Keys Weekly

Key Largo School flutist Valeria Correa has played to live audiences in the past, most recently during the Coral Shores High School homecoming parade. But for this seventh grader and her KLS bandmates, the stakes are higher for an upcoming gig at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.  

“Ms. Bazin tells us that we’re going to be on TV, so that’s going to be different,” said Correa. “I’m really excited. I can’t wait to play.” 

KLS band director and music teacher Susan Bazin arranged for sixth, seventh and eighth grade band students to play before the start of the NASCAR 2022 Truck/Xfinity Series on Saturday, Oct. 22. “We’ll be kind of the warmup to the warmup band,” explained Bazin.

This will be the first time the KLS band has performed at the speedway and this concert is long overdue. “We were due to play two years ago and two weeks before we were going to play, the pandemic hit and everything shut down,” said Bazin.

Performing at the speedway does come with a price. Band members are required to pay to get into the venue, $30 apiece. There is also the cost of transportation. Race organizers gave KLS discounted tickets to help raise funds. 

“We are in a really good section, 242, so you see the whole track,” said Bazin.

The fundraiser tickets to the NASCAR event are $40 for adults and $35 for children under 18. Bazin says the tickets regularly go for $90.  

Those not wanting to take to the track can still help. “We’re very happy to take donations. If somebody doesn’t want to go to a noisy car race, they can scan that QR code and help a band student go,” said Bazin. 

Bazin says roughly 50 members of the KLS band will participate in the NASCAR show, including seventh grader James Blanco. Blanco is looking forward to playing his bass clarinet in front of the large crowd. He admits the thought of performing at such a large venue like the speedway is a little intimidating. 

“It’s like kind of scary because everyone is watching you from Miami,” said Blanco. 

Band captain and eighth grader Brittney Ranbolth plays the trumpet. She knows butterflies and live performances go hand in hand. “It’s nerve-wracking at first but then it’s just like, okay, whatever,” she said.

Bazin has been the KLS band teacher for the last 23 years. She believes it’s important to get students in front of live audiences as often as possible.

“I really like to get them out in different venues and performing as much as possible because for me, that’s what it’s all about,” she said. Bazin hopes the NASCAR concert becomes an annual event.

If you’d like to buy a ticket for the NASCAR Truck/Xfinity Series on Oct. 22 or make a donation to the KLS band, just scan the QR code that appears with this article. Tickets for this fundraiser must be purchased by Tuesday, Oct. 4.

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Kellie Butler Farrell is a journalist who calls Islamorada home. Kellie spent two decades in television news and also taught journalism at Barry University in Miami and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She loves being outside, whether spending time on the water or zipping down the Old Highway on her electric bike, Kellie is always soaking up the island lifestyle. Kellie and her husband own an electric bike rental company, Keys Ebikes.