I have been writing a series of posts on children’s empowerment through the I’Mpossible Run Club. But clearly there are more ways to empower children, and I have found that music is one of them. Here is our experience at the School Of Rock in Miami, Florida. No, I am not paid to write this and this is NOT a sponsored post, I just see how my boys have changed and want to share that with you.
For as long as I can remember Dreamer (now ten) wanted to play guitar. We tried lessons when he was only four (picture above) but he couldn’t press the strings of his Phinneus and Ferb guitar hard enough to make a sound. I think he was seven when we got him an electric guitar for his birthday. He had traditional music lessons at a music school, and when that didn’t work out, I would get high school students to come to our house and teach him music. He loved it! But the guitar would only be used once a week when his teacher came over.
For Fearless (now eight) his foray into music began with drum lessons in Kindergarten. Once a week he played on a drum pad on the floor for forty five minutes. Eventually, he begged for a drum set but since we lived in an apartment we went the electric route. Given the kid wasn’t even six years old, I was not about to spend a lot of money and we bought the cheapest electric drum set available at the time. It proved it’s value and broke within a month. He also got lessons at home and rarely practiced in between. However one day, I am not sure where we were, Fearless got on a drum set and began to play. We were shocked by what we heard. He really could play! We had no idea. By then we had moved to a house and finally for his eighth birthday he got a “real drum set.”
Then seven months ago came the School of Rock. I saw a flyer for a free trial lesson and we went in. Since then, we’ve become their biggest fans.
How It Works
My kids joined Rock 101, the beginner program. Children receive 45 minutes of private instruction on the instrument of their choice: guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, or vocals. At this level, they can also experiment with other instruments before selecting their favorite one. During class, they learn to play songs from the Rock 101 catalog which includes the likes of AC/DC, Blur, Greenday, Beatles, Cream, and more. Each song is selected because it teaches something specific, and Mark, our teacher, reminds everyone the best musicians are those who can play a song they don’t particularly like as if they loved it.
In addition, each child has 1 ½ hours of band practice where they play the songs they learn in private instruction, on a stage, with a group. This aspect of the School of Rock experience is what has made the complete difference in my children. The teachers are incredibly encouraging and supportive; I am convinced they must have an extra patience chromosome somewhere. With support from the teachers, even the shyest child has found his way up to the microphone. But an excited child is also welcomed. Fearless gets completely stimulated at the School of Rock and many times I thought Mark would finally lose his patience. So far, he hasn’t. Instead, he said it is easier to control someone like Fearless who just wants to get up there and jam, then to give energy to a child that doesn’t have the passion. Once he said that, I was able to see Fearless’ behavior in class under a completely different light. This is where the empowerment comes in. It’s one thing to learn to play an instrument; it’s a whole different level when you play as part of a group. You must leave your shell and comfort zone, and open up to be part of something bigger.
Kids don’t want to get on stage and not know the song because the band depends on them to play. So guess what happens? They practice. And when they practice, get on stage, and are able to rock out to a tune guess what happens then? They want more. And more. And more. They practice longer, they want new songs, they got that taste of success and seek to have more of it. So all of a sudden, my boys practice at home almost everyday. Sometimes alone, and sometimes together. Below is a short clip of them playing ZZ Top. They did not learn this at School of Rock, but are figuring it out because they are encouraged to experiment with their instruments at the school. They look up songs on YouTube and try to play them at home. This would’ve never happened before.
Once children master the songs in Rock 101 they move on to Performance Band. These are show bands that rehearse for four months and then put on a performance at a “real” venue. We’ve seen some of these performance bands at a club in town. Wow. Those kids can play. We are not there yet, but will probably make it in the next session. Some of the shows they’ve put on recently are: British Invasion, One Hit Wonders, 90s Grunge, and History of Punk. Each show has a poster, flyers and all the fixings of a live performance
And then, the best of the best students of the School of Rock audition to be in the House Band. They perform often and also participate in a summer tour. This way they experience what it is like to play and tour as a career choice. Seriously. How cool is that?
What about music theory? If what you are looking for is formal music education this is not the place for you. The thought here is that children should love to play first, and then as they grow musically they are taught more music theory. My boys know how to read a little bit of music, they have learned how to dissect songs, understand their different parts, and identify them. I am not too concerned about music theory right now. I am obviously the type of parent that encourages their musicality, but my goal is for them to learn to play really well so they can have fun, develop interpersonal skills and self confidence; all of which the School of Rock accomplishes in spades. My boys never liked being on a soccer team, but love playing in a band. It’s the same teamwork concept with concerts instead of games. They get their exercise from the Run Club, but instead of a team sport they have chosen this path.
I’ll give you an example. My boys decided to do the school’s talent show this year. They wanted to play TNT by AC/DC just the two of them with Fearless on the drums, and Dreamer on guitar and vocals. They were a little nervous because it was a large crowd with many of their friends, but they had so much practice they got up there and rocked the house. Check out for yourself:
Most of the older kids are incredibly supportive of the younger ones. Over winter break my boys participated in the Beatles Winter Camp where in three days they learned enough to put on a show. There, they met the older kids who are in the Performance Bands and House Band. They rose to the occasion, practiced more than ever to get their songs right since they were the youngest ones and looked up to their more experienced bandmates. To this day, when they cross paths at the School of Rock the older kids check in and chat with them to see what they are up to and what songs my boys are working on. It’s so sweet that while I melt, my boys listen intently.
Now, School of Rock is a franchise. We are in Miami and go to the one near the Falls. If you go to this link, you can check to see which School is nearest to you. Maybe your budding musician will find his or her voice and will completely surprise you like mine did!
Please remember. This is NOT a sponsored post, I have NOT been compensated for this review and all opinions are surely my own. Rock On!