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School of Rock's Performance-Based Approach Gets Kids Motivated to Learn

By S. Mathur

Since the first School of Rock was opened by Paul Green in Philadelphia in 1998, it has established itself as a non-traditional and highly effective program of musical training. Unlike other schools, which put kids in a room by themselves to practice music, School of Rock puts them in a band and assigns them music relating to a specific genre or a particular artist. It helps that this is the kind of music kids listen to anyway and that they really want to learn to play.

The performance-based instruction is based on the belief that the best way to learn music is to play. Elliot Baldini, Senior Vice President of Marketing for School of Rock explains that "We are different than other music school as we teach kids to play using songs they know and love from iconic bands and musicians such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Queen, and more. Kids get the opportunity to learn how to play in a group, which builds their confidence, social skills and technique."

Playing in a band helps even professional musicians improve rapidly, and it has become the basis for instruction at the School. Kids also get authentic performance experience, with professional equipment and performances at legendary rock venues. Whether their interest is in guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, or drums, there is a place for each kid at the School. And of course, you don't have to be a kid to enroll in the school, there are classes for adults as well as toddlers.

There are classes for students at all levels. Rock 101 offers weekly private instruction in the classic fundamentals as well as group band rehearsal. The final exam is a live performance at a local venue. Guest professors are often professionals who have succeeded in their musical careers and can give students an idea of what to expect. As well as classic and indie rock, students learn the fundamentals of rock and roll, funk, reggae, heavy metal, alternative and prog rock.

As well as music and performance experience, students gain life experience, says Baldini: "School of Rock is more than just learning an instrument, it's learning to be a part of something bigger than yourself. By taking the focus off the individual and focusing on the group dynamic, students enjoy a more supportive and motivating environment. This leads to kids practicing more, and of course, more fun."

Not surprisingly, graduates have distinguished themselves and gone on to perform on Broadway's "School of Rock" and "American Idol". The AllStars program picks the top one percent of the School's students to play on legendary stages like Red Rocks Amphitheater, The Knitting Factory, BB King's Blues Club and The Roxy. The AllStars also perform at music festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

The School has seasonal camps year round, with workshops, clinics, and private instruction to improve music performance and ensemble skills. Camp themes can include: Performance Boot Camps, Beginner Camps, Intermediate/Advanced Sessions, Artist-Themed Camps, and Songwriting & Recording.

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