Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yes Virginia, There is a School of Rock - Post It Tuesday








When the singer in my son's band told me that she was going to the School of Rock and that she thought he would like it too, I paused for a second to think. There is a School of Rock around here? Nah. She had to be talking about Manhattan. Wow! She has amazing parents to be schlepping her in and out of NYC once a week.


Curious, but never thinking it was a real possibility, I looked it up on the Internet. Surprise, surprise, there were five SOR locations in the NY metro area, one reasonably close to us. So I gave them a call and they told me to bring my son down for a brief skills assessment, which would help them determine which programs he could participate in.


The way SOR works, is each 4 month "semester" of SOR consists of a weekly 45 minute, private lesson on the instrument of your choice and then a 2+ hour rehearsal, leading up to a show. The show ends the semester as a sort of "final exam". There were several shows that my son could choose from this past semester, including; Green Day, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix and Progressive Rock (Yes, Rush, etc). Being that his band mate was in the Green Day show and Green Day is in his pop/punk wheelhouse, it seemed to be the obvious choice for the boy. And we signed him up, just like that.

I'm not gonna lie, the tuition was pricey, but when we figured out the number of hours of instruction that he would get and the opportunity to play with kids of diverse skill levels, it seemed like it would be worth it. The proof would be in the Green Day show, the actual performance for a paying audience (usually held in a bar or other venue equipped to feature musical acts).

The first night that I dropped my son off at SOR, it was like stepping into another world. There were guitar cases everywhere, kids running up and down the stairs to the rehearsal hall, parents and kids sitting around strumming guitars and discussing music and a collection of music teachers and administrators buzzing about, orchestrating. It was chaos, but it was a happy chaos. I knew that the boy would fit right in.


I had read the SOR manifesto and the rules of conduct and was pleased to know that they have a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcolol, encourage team work and collaboration and accept kids of all skill levels. From what I could tell from getting my son enrolled, the people that ran the place, were very nice and really seemed to live by their promise of making their school a friendly, non-threatening environment. There weren't any noses in the air (except for one guitar teacher that seemed like a bit of a douche. He wasn't my son's guitar teacher though, so I didn't care).


Fast forward four months to this past weekend and the Green Day show was upon us. The opening act for the Green Day show was something called Rock School 101. This was comprised of beginner musicians aged 7 and under. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you hear a cherubic seven year old blond girl belt out Paranoid or a pint sized boy in shades singing Rebel Rebel. It was adorable, but more importantly, it was impressive. This was the clear indicator that they knew what they were doing. Then speedily and efficiently they swapped off the little ones and introduced the Green Day show. With a set list of over 20 songs and a cast list of more than that, there were performers swapping in and out with every song. This was done quickly, gracefully and with great efficiency. And the kids were good, the songs were polished and nobody seemed to have even the most remote case of stage fright.



When it was all over, the hubs and I were completely sold on the boy doing another semester with them. However, he is in play tryouts at school and if he gets a part, the rehearsal schedule won't allow time for School of Rock. When I told this to his teacher last night, he seemed genuinely disappointed, but he graciously told the boy that he could sit in on any practice sessions that he wanted to, because he was "part of the family now". And that felt good. I'm thinking summer session.



P.S.
This is school is a franchise of the actual School of Rock that the movie was based around, but if you ask those associated with the movie, they will tell you that it was not. There was apparently a reality show in the works that went south and the movie popped up shortly after without credit to the school's founder, Paul Green - Excerpt from an article on Digital Nation "If any or all of this scenario sounds familiar to people who’ve seen Richard Linklater’s The School of Rock, it should. Jack Black does a passable imitation of Green, in his scruffy dress and cranky demeanor, and, his curriculum is practically a carbon-copy of the original. Paramount continues to assert that any similarities between the two entities are purely coincidental. Fact is, though, sister-company VH1 had spent some time with Green and his students in 2002, taping material ostensibly intended for a reality-based show. The crew disappeared one day, and Green didn’t smell a rat until publicity material for “The School of Rock” began showing up in theaters and on TV."



Having seen both the movie and the real School of Rock, it's pretty ballsy that Paramount wouldn't fess up about the inspiration for their movie.

















35 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

hokgardner said...

How great that your son was able to participate in such a wonderful program.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

My nephew does that and he also does the summer camp. I can't wait for my son to be old enough. It is totally cool, and the concert they put on is really great.

Allyson said...

I have to admit that I'm so far out of the loop, I'm basically in an octagon. When you said "School of Rock" I went straight to the Saturday Morning cartoons, skipping over the movie entirely. And now that I think about it, I think that was Schoolhouse Rock, yes? What a great program! I'm all for education outside of the classroom and it really sounds like they have their schiznit together - which is important. Any video debuts coming in the future?

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

This sounds fantastic.
I see Bob's future...

Sara said...

That's freakin' bad-ass. Your kid goes to The School of Rock? I would introduce myself that way.

Hi, I'm Sara. Nice to meet you. My child is currently learning how to rock your face off, if you will.

You have a cool child. And you are cool parents.

Amy said...

Wow, I find the story of SOR fascinating!
Green Day was/is one of my all time favorite bands! I would have loved to see the kids performing! Sounds fantastic!

And congrats to the boy! Sounds like he's got a lot of talent mama:)

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Hokgardener - Yeah, I'm glad we made the decision to move forward with it. He was already taking weekly guitar lessons near home, but we decided to do both and luckily it worked out.

Lee the Hotflash Queen - It really is impressive that they can corral the attention of these young kids and make performers out of them. It's impressive.

Allyson - I loved Schoolhouse Rock - Conjunction Junction, Lolly lolly Lolly get your adverbs here, I'm Just a Bill. If that's where being octagonal takes you, sign me up!

I made a pledge to myself when I started this blog that I would be annonymous and not post pics of the kids. I have GREAT video and it kills me not to post it, but that's what I signed up for (so to speak).

LPR - Your guy has the genes and a built in teacher at home. It would be surprising if he didn't show musical talent. SOR could be the cherry on the sundae.

Sara - No credit is due to us (except for signing the checks). The school totally has their program mapped out. It's phenomenal what they can do. And ok, the boy did do at least one face melting solo. ;)

Amy - Yeah, I don't know how the film makers could not acknowledge Paul Green. There's a documentary out there called Rock School, which I gave the boy for christmas. It's a great look into the early days of SOR and Paul Green.

MiMi said...

That sounds so cool! :)

Existential Waitress said...

I've heard of this and i think they have one here. I would love it if one or both of my kids could do it - it sounds awesome!

linlah said...

Talented and lucky boy with great parents. I wish there was one close to me, I'd send my husband.

The Rambler said...

That is fantastic!!

On the boy getting to rock out like that!!

But boo on Paramount for not crediting the correct people. Some people are just so douchie!!

Or I guess companies!

Salt said...

I was always hoping that School of Rock was a real thing, but never knew for sure. :) That's so cool that your son got the opportunity to go!

One thing I always tell my fiancé...I really want to allow our child (when we have one) to explore musical talent. My mom never put me in music lessons or anything and as an adult I have absolutely no musical talent and wish I had learned when I was younger.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

MiMi - It is cool. I can't recommend it enough for kids who are musically inclined. They learn and it's fun above all else.

Linlah - Thanks. Our generation didn't have anything even remotely cool like this.This generation, as a whole is very fortunate.


Rambler - Yeah, it sucks to see anyone not getting what they are entitled to.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Salt - I feel the same way. Like I missed an opportunity by not playing an instrument. When my son told me that he wanted to play guitar, I was thrilled, but I played it cool. I wanted him to want this for himself and not because I wanted it. I never wanted to have to ask him to practice because nagging is the sure way to derail his interest. It developed all on its own, much to my delight and I get to enjoy it. I never want it to stop being fun.

Insanitykim said...

Loved the movie, love Jack Black, love that you are awesome and your son gets to benefit from that by being a part of SOR. Awesome.

Lin said...

Oh wow! I didn't know it really existed!! HOw cool!!

That One Mom said...

That. Sounds. Awesome!

Maven said...

My son went to a version of school of rock here too. He loved it and we loved it!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Insanity Kim - I loved the movie too. The documentary Rock School is interesting too.

Lin - Yeah, a great surprise that it exists.

That One Mom - It is. Highly recommend!

Maven - Isn't it a great program? Love, love, love it!

Masala Chica said...

First of all - that was such a great movie. I loved it. I would have loved to have had an opportunity to do something like that when I was young. That is so cool that you are doing that for your son. and as for not giving credit where it is due - that is ridiculous.
kiran

Arizona Mamma said...

How about posting a video of your son/son's band some time! That is incredibly cool of you to sign him up for that.

Kimberly said...

That is so COOL! I have never heard of it. Loved the post. I would have never known.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Masala Chica - I love the movie too and I love jack Black and Mike White, who wrote the screenplay. If you want to see the real story, rent the Rock School documentatary.

AZ Mamma - I wish I didn't blog annonymously or I would have video everywhere!

Kimberly - It's a real thing and really well done.

Kate@And Then I Was a Mom said...

Huh. Well, I'm obviously last to the party--I had no idea there were real Schools of Rock. Or School of Rocks.

Your description of the first time you saw the school in person (with its attendees' common interests, common excitement) makes me think of the ballet school in Flashdance, but with less snobbery abounding. I always loved that scene...sigh.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Kate - Yeah, no snobbery. Thank god, or they wouldn't get my money.

blueviolet said...

I had no idea that existed! Super cool!

KK said...

I can't believe they are denying that...but then again, hollywood is hollywood. It sounds like a great program though!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Blue Violet - It is for real. I think in started in the early 00's in Philadelphia.

KK - Hopefully, in the end, everyone made money. I would hope that the franchising is making the founder some cash.

Elizabeth a.k.a. Type A Mommy said...

Very interesting about the Vh-1/Paramount business, totally didn't know that. It's awesome that your son went to SOR! I think I would totally do that when my son gets older, if music is his thing (and I'd for it to be his thing). Very awesome indeed. Stopping by from SITS to say hello and I'm glad I did - this post put a smile on my face. :)

Erin said...

Sounds so fun & so cool! How lucky is he?!!? I don't know yet if my kids will be musically inclined (I am not, I am tone deaf), but if they are, I hope we'll have access to something as special as this!

Tracie said...

I have learned something tonight. I had no idea that School Of Rock was a real school. How wonderful for your son that he is able to do this! Another benefit of living in a larger urban area. LeSigh.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Elizabeth - So glad you stopped by.

Erin - Yeah, musical talent did not come from me, but I do have a flair for the dramatic (just ask my poor husband).

Tracie - (When did you stop being Kys?) It's real indeed.

Jen Chandler said...

I had no idea there was a real school of rock. How cool is that? I'm glad your son got to participate. I think it's wonderful that you support his creative endeavors. So many put art and music down and not necessary in schools or for children's intellectual development. I think if kids were able to be more creative, it coudl cut down on a LOT of emotional turmoil and violence. I'll stop preaching now :)

Happy weekend,
Jen

miss jo said...

It's great there's something organized to teach rock n' roll stuff, particularly if includes how to read music...What a great way to help your son get in touch with his mode of self expression. He might want to eventually branch out and get one-on-one instrution with a local muscian he admires who gives lessons. That happens frequently in SF. The best players my husband knows all read music, the value of improv and playing in an ensemble--- things true to all music. I love live music ! Rock on !

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