Rock Schools

Op Ed: Rock Schools

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Remember seeing School of Rock with Jack Black and then not long after all these “Rock Schools” started opening? I bet most of you, like me, thought what a great idea. Which isn’t very surprising. As of late though, there is a certain aspect of these schools that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to. There are a lot of great reasons why these schools are great; I’ll get to that as well but, there is one aspect of the whole thing that really cheapens it. Why aren’t these schools and teachers helping the kids to write their own songs? The teaching element of playing and learning other bands songs is great but when you are ONLY teaching these kids to play other peoples songs, then, I must take umbrage with these schools.

Where’s the originality? Why be complacent and teach these kids to do that? There is no reason why these kids should be relegated to play covers at these places. Obviously, they have the want and desire to play and perform, so why not take that and spark their creativity?! These kids, a lot of them are massively talented and it’s going to waste playing covers. I’d love for these kids to really start their own band and write their own songs. Look at all the singing competitions on TV. These people are being judged on singing and playing covers. There really is no sense of originality anymore. All these people are strictly “performers” at this point. The artistry is gone and American Idol, The Voice and now these “Rock Schools” have killed it for the next generation.

When the schools do showcase events, the kids are always just playing covers. It’s great that they can play the songs but, there isn’t a need for any more cover bands in the world. I can understand young kids, say less than 12 years old, jamming on covers but when you reach a certain age, there should be a switch to creating your own music. I remember the moment I wrote my first real song. I was at my house with my friend Karl, we must have been in 5th grade. I was already consumed and obsessed with music and was getting my friend really into it as well. At some point while hanging out, I picked up my guitar and started messing around with a riff, my friend Karl then joined me in humming a melody, within seconds we were writing our first song. It was a total simple punk rock song but, we really put our all into it. The song was called “Life and Death,” and we would go on to perform it a couple months later for our parents at a get together. The spark was there then, and it has remained. We were having fun and really digging on being able to write songs. I think we wrote 5 or 6 songs. To us, we weren’t happy playing covers, we wanted to do “our” thing. The name of the band was originally The Warheads and then we switched it to The Eternal Virus. To us it was real, to some people thought it was a joke but, no matter what they all thought, we did it because we loved it.

Please rock schools, embrace the creativity and desire of these kids. They are the next generation of musicians and deserve to be heard. Don’t turn them into a gimmick. Make sure they are getting the right musical education. Teach them about the influences of their favorite bands. Get them INTO music, have them study the greats of yesterday. Help them to understand the difference between being influenced and inspired.