Don’t you wish you could gig at The Annandale Hotel instead of jamming in your friend’s garage? Kids who attend Inner West School of Rock can do just that!
Philadelphia born musician Bonnie Kay is the SOR founder and director, and teaches an increasing number of kids in the art of rock with some help from musicians from bands such as The Follow, The Caca, The Graphics, Hell City Glamours, The Herd, The Howling Bells, Rastawookie, theredsunband, Deep Sea Arcade, Richard in Your Mind, etc. “School of Rock is the only way some of these kids can get a gig,”she says,”and playing a sell- out gig at a rock and roll institution like The Annandale is like a big thing for them-some established so-called-adult bands can’t even manage that.”
Inspired by the Paul Green School of Rock in Philadelphia, Kay set up the Australian version of the school in 2002. Those who’ve watched Green’s feature documentary ROCKSCHOOL, where the eccentric muso transforms ordinary high school students into miniature Frank Zappas, will remember that his success in putting on a good final show came sometimes at the kids expense. While Kay uses the same goal based learning approach as Green, (where musicians learn by playing and performing) she doesn’t use his abusive teaching antics.
But this school isn’t about the teachers taking centre stage, as was the case in both Green’s Rockschool doco and Gene Simmons’ Britsh TV series. Even in the movie, School of Rock, the teacher played by a caricaturish Jack Black, starts as the protagonist. Kay’s SOR is more about the kids- helping them to write original songs, teaching them about the stagecraft of putting on a good live show, then steping back and allowing them to stand in their own spotlight.
Another recently added innovation has been a free professional recording for each band at School of Rock. The first ‘School of Rock Demo’ had a whopping 7 original songs. “Students have really enjoyed the recording experience, and the learning curve is huge! Some kids had no idea what to expect the first time they did it and were surprised by how long and difficult it was, but then in subsequent sessions they nailed it in one take. The engineers who recorded the students were also pleasantly surprised by the level of talent and the quality of the songs the students were putting out,” said Kay.
Term 4 for 2008 is kicking off on Monday October 20th, and SOR is still accepting expressions of interest. You can join either as an already formed and established band or a bunch of mates you get together who haven’t played together yet but want to be in a band. You can even join by yourself as a singular musician and Bonnie will put you into a band, hopefully with people approximately your age and who are into similar music.
Interested parties are encouraged to visit http://www.rockschool.com.au or http://www.myspace.com/rockschool. You can contact Bonnie directly through [email protected] or on 0425 236 694. You can also SMS that same number for a free info pack including a dvd!