Learnin’ How to Rock
Michelle Stachan | Contributing Writer
With the energy coming from the stage and the cheers from the audience, you’d think you were at a sold-out Aerosmith concert, but tonight it was King for a Queen playing the 8th grade “Black Tie Dance” at Memorial Middle School in Albany.
The crowd went wild when they played Bob Seger‘s “Old Time Rock and Roll” and a tender moment was shared by all when Jayden traded her drum sticks for a sparkly red guitar and joined the band center stage for an acoustic version of “The Only Exception” by Paramore.
So what’s so special about this kick-ass cover band? For one, their ages are 14, 15, and 16. And two, they’re one of the “touring bands” from Musicafe’ Rock School.
Musicafe’ Rock School is a unique and colorful music school that teaches music lovers of all ages to develop and grow performance skills while learning how to play their favorite musical instruments.They have several instructors who are experienced, professional musicians, as well as exceptional mentors, to give students the tools necessary to excel in rock band classes, as well as individual artists.
Conner Farrell, 15, who plays guitar and sings, belted out “Smells like Teen Spirit” with a confidence and charisma that would make even Kurt Cobain proud. Kyler Crocker, 14, was on bass; with shaggy hair and shades on, he looked and sounded like a natural born rock star, dancing around while he rocked his instrument.
Sophie Welch, 16, who played keyboard and tambourine, wowed the crowd with her angelic voice when she sang “99 Luftballoons” and Jayden Landucci-Arellano, 14, with an up-do and a strapless party dress on, sang with the greatest of ease as she banged her drums like she was Keith Moon of The Who. They’ve got stage presence, talent, professionalism, and a lung capacity that might just leave your ears ringing in the morning.
If you’re starting to fantasize about how cool it would be to play an instrument, sing, or rock a crowd like that, you might be surprised to learn that your rock star fantasy could become a reality a lot easier than you think.
Musicafe’ Rock School offers private one-on-one lessons for many instruments, as well as
Rock School sessions, called “Rockmesters” which are classes dedicated to practicing and performing as a band. Rockmesters run from Sept.-Dec. and Feb.-May, with private lessons available all year. Kids, adults, experienced musicians, and beginners are all welcome.
Groups are formed according to musical ability and stage experience, and usually get together one night a week for a two-hour rehearsal. Each Rockmester culminates in a live, public performance with full production lighting, sound, and special effects. As bands become more advanced and “gig ready,” they may be booked at special events and shows around the community.
For information on lessons, summer camp, booking, and upcoming events call 541-738-ROCK (7625).
2521 NW Ninth Street
126 East 1st Avenue
Also on Facebook, search: Musicafe RockSchool
Students learn to play the music that most inspires them and are often amazed at what they can accomplish as a group that individually they couldn’t imagine doing in such a short time. “It’s a good way to break out of your shell.” says Landucci-Arellano, who’s been going to Rock School for seven years and plays multiple instruments.
Some of the instruments taught at Rock School include keyboard, bass, guitar, brass and wind instruments, and school instruments. Musical instruments can be purchased through Rock School if needed, and a rent-to-own program is also in the works.
A lot of students, like Katie and Ray, take private lessons to focus on learning their instrument, and also schedule band lessons directly after that. They are members of a rock band called “The Rock Mechanics,” and both are 10 years old.
Some days, while Katie practices her bass in one of the “jam rooms,” Ray, who plays guitar and sings, reads a book and waits for the other band members to arrive for the band lesson. They enjoy playing gigs or even just practicing at Rock School. “It’s fun because you get to rock with someone else,” says Katie.
Every summer, kids ages 7-17 also have the opportunity to go to Rock School’s Summer Camp. Several one-week sessions are offered from June 18 through August 24. Camp bands meet for half a day, every day for a week, and end with a live concert where family, friends, and neighbors are encouraged to come and cheer for their young rockers.
There’s always something exciting going on at Musicafe’ Rock School, whether it’s cool studio renovations, new music instructors and camp counselors, or upcoming programs. Rock School is currently planning programs for flash mob choir, recording/engineering class, digital arts squad, and a DJ/spinning class to be offered this fall.
When it comes to rock, you’re never too old or too cool for school.