When the South Bay School of Rock opens in North Redondo Beach on April 13, don't expect to hear any Beethoven or Bach flowing from the school's state-of-the-art recording studio or lesson rooms. This school is for those kids who want to rock.
Started as an after school program in Philadelphia in 2002 and popularized with a Jack Black movie of the same name, the School of Rock aims to teach music by helping kids learn how to play classic rock songs on a variety of instruments.
South Bay School of Rock general manager Bernard Wong explained that many kids are turned off to learning an instrument at a young age when they are forced to play and rehearse classical songs on classical instruments. Wong admitted that his own son would throw temper tantrums when he tried to get him to practice piano.
"One of the differentiating factors is instead of all these methods that teach you European classical music and music that would be heard if you were a child in a nursery school in Europe, the whole idea is to teach kids to perform rock songs," Wong said of the School of Rock. "That not only entails learning your instrument of choice, but you are doing it with rock songs that kids know or can hear on the radio and certainly their parents know and hopefully love."
According to Wong, the School of Rock not only teaches kids how to play their respective instruments—it also teaches them teamwork by placing them into bands with other children.
"The whole idea is you are not just locked in a room with a teacher learning how to play classical guitar on your own," Wong explained. "Instead, you are learning how to play these songs and then in rehearsals, we are putting you with other kids and you are actually learning how to perform as a band ... In the end, there is this whole social dynamic that goes on among the kids because they are working together as a team.”
At the end of each season (usually a 3-month period), those kids then perform as a band on stage in front of family, friends and even strangers which Wong said adds an additional element of growth for many kids.
"Once we take them on stage, that is a fabulous experience," Wong said. "Even if they have no intention whatsoever of being a professional musician, the fact that they have gone through this whole process of socializing with other kids they may not know, learning the materials and learning how to perform those songs … that is a great experience as they go forward in life.”
Wong said that the Redondo Beach location will have a recording studio that meets industry standards and will also feature top of the line instruments that would not be out of place at the concert of a major headlining rock band.
“It is serious, top-notch, professional gear," Wong admitted. "It will be way nicer gear than any other musical school would ever think of putting in the hands of kids.”
Once open, the school will accept kids up to the age of 17 and of all levels of musical talent. Wong said that other School of Rock locations have accepted kids with zero experience as well as kids who have recorded their own studio albums.
The Redondo Beach location took over a former medical office building at 1806 Artesia Blvd. and is currently in the process of converting exam rooms into lesson and rehearsal rooms. The school will host its grand opening on April 13 and will feature lesson discounts and giveaways for those who attend.
For more information on enrollment and the school's teaching structure, visit its website at southbayla.schoolofrock.com.