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School of Rock Covers “Oye Como Va” by Santana

Watch School of Rock students cover Santana’s Song “Oye Como Va” in the Studio

School of Rock sent talented students from all over Chicago, IL to come together and perform this electrified, first-time rendition of Santana’s classic: “Oye Como Va.” The students, all 12-years-old and under, traveled from their local School of Rock’s Performance Programs, and met to rehearse as a band for the first time. Before meeting up to record in Rax Trax, Chicago, IL the students individually practiced their assigned parts in preparation for their first studio experience.

School of Rock students recording Oye Como Va by Santana in the studio PlayPlay Button

Is "Oye Como Va" an easy song to play?

You may recognize Santana for big hits like “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” The band’s music blends a combination of blues, salsa, and both Latin and African influences into a rock-fusion that has become instantly recognizable. 

The band’s founder, Carlos Santana, is famous himself for his mastery of the guitar and demanding presence-stage. Often described as the pioneer of the fusion of rock and Latin American jazz, the band’s songs are filled with vibrant melodies, grooving tunes, and dynamic improvisations that make their songs so much fun.

School of Rock makes musicians stage-ready, and prepares students to be ready for any challenge. That’s why Santana’s “Oye Como Va” is an excellent song for beginners and budding musicians. Originally written by Tito Puente in 1963, and later popularized by Santana, the song is a jam that features intense group build-ups, a complex syncopated rhythm (common in Latin music), and a rolling groove that’s fun to play. In order to play this song, School of Rock musicians need to have a solid understanding of music fundamentals – which makes this “Oye Como Va” cover the perfect song for beginners.

"Oye Como Va" instrument-by-instrument:

Bass Guitar

The bass guitar can be described as the anchor of this “Oye Como Va” cover. Along with the drummers and percussionists, the bass player carries the band throughout the performance. For this song, the bass player needs a basic understanding of groove, especially when playing songs from a band like Santana. The ability to keep rhythm is also important as the song’s beat plays with subtle twists and variations that make it so fun to dance to.


For this song, a percussionist needs to have a steady sense of time and tempo. The latin rhythms in this song are complex, and playing so many rhythms at the same time can be challenging itself. Heavily influenced by both Latin and African sounds, Santana’s “Oye Como Va” is the perfect opportunity for drummers to flex their music muscles. The song’s expansive influences also allow drummers to experiment with a wide range of percussion, and let musicians play with instruments like drums, bongos, timbales, and more to bring their own unique twist to the song. 


Carlos Santana is known for his impressive guitar solos and playful improvisations. That being said, the skill set needed for this song definitely isn’t for a beginner, and hovers closer in the intermediate range. For this song, the lead guitarist needs to keep in-time with the rest of the band, and have the confidence to blaze through their solo and have fun while doing it.


Santana’s latin influences make the keyboard a challenging and lively instrument to play for this song. Like the lead guitar, the keyboard solo for this “Oye Como Va” cover also isn’t for beginners. The syncopated rhythm, accents and trills, and slides all require the keyboardist to have an intermediate skill level and play with confidence during their performance.


The rhythmic and steady vocals for this song are typical for Santana, aiding the song in its cohesiveness. Instead of overpowering the rest of the instruments, the vocals work with the rest of the band to create a single, unified song with no parts that overpowers the others. For this song, the vocalists need to be able to harmonize for this 3-part harmony and keep tune. The dancing is also a nice touch, for the energy of the singer affects the audience’s reaction to the music.

How did students prepare for this song?

All the artists who performed in this song were students in the School of Rock Performance Program, and came from multiple schools around Chicago, IL. Before this recording, many of the students had just met each other for the first time, and only had the chance to rehearse as a single band a couple of time – though it certainly doesn’t show. After weeks of work, the students were able to work together seamlessly and deliver a rendition of Santana’s song that truly rocks.

Check out more School of Rock performances

At School of Rock, students tackle a wide variety of music styles and learn the tools they need to play and perform on-stage. Our music programs combine private sessions with group rehearsals, and challenge students while encouraging them to learn at their own pace.

School of Rock Performances

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