School of Rock

By David Martel

School of Rock students with Joey Santiago, lead guitarist of The Pixies, as part of the school’s Guest Professor Series.

Manager Brad Reaume of School of Rock’s Toluca Lake location explains that the company is united by a “performance based approach” to teaching kids music. The idea is for students to become interested in and capable of grasping music and the theory behind it by allowing them to get comfortable with their instruments as quickly as possible. The organization was originally founded in Philadelphia in 1998 and now has 69 schools operating in the US and Mexico.

Programs for all skill levels cover guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, and drums. The school combines weekly private lessons with group band rehearsals that prepare students to take the stage in front of a live audience. The June session, currently enrolling, is focusing on three music themes for its shows: Queen, Best of the ‘90s, and Guns N’ Roses. The special summer camps, starting June 18, last one week each and focus on a specific set list for performances. Students in the various programs have played to an audience of more than 100,000 people combined.

School of Rock students perform “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine as part of their Tribute to 21st Century Rock @ Whisky A Go Go.

Unique to having a rock ‘n’ roll school in Los Angeles is the amazing pool of instructor talent to draw from, explains Reaume. All those teaching at the two and a half year old Toluca Lake location are active music professionals that provide a strong 5:1 student to teacher ratio. Past special performer guests have included Robby Krieger (The Doors), Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction), and Michael Anthony (Van Halen).

One thing that transcends music is the school’s emphasis on teamwork. During rehearsals, focus is taken off of the individual and placed on the objective to function well as a group. This undoubtedly has an effect on other areas of a young person’s life.

School of Rock caters to all skill levels. However, more advanced artists that have performed in a number of shows may audition for AllStars. This touring group is made up of the most experienced students from the global network of school locations. During the summer, kids chosen go on a tour with busses and various live shows throughout the country. Previous AllStars have played at Red Rocks, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits amongst other venues.

I wish this place had been around when I was a kid. They should make one of these for adults.

In addition to the weeklong summer camps, there is a two week camp in August focusing on songwriting and recording. For more information or to book a trial lesson, call (818) 643-7263 or visit www.northhollywood.schoolofrock.com. School of Rock is located at 4516 Mariota Ave. in Toluca Lake.