Inside the School of Rock Music- MN and their upcoming concert Woodstock Re-Rocked!
Stacey Marmolejo is the owner of two after school music programs for kids 8 – 18 years old in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. The Paul Green School of Rock Music in Eden Prairie and in St. Paul specializes in teaching kids how to play guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals in the rock genre.
Stacey took time out from her busy schedule to answers a few questions about the school, its popular programs and concerts.
Q: Stacey, as owner of the two School of Rock Music schools in Minnesota, you and your hard-working staff have committed yourselves to helping kids (age 8-18) realize their musical aspirations and experience their inner Rock Star. What inspired you to open these schools and what is your driving motivation for running them?
A: My own son was my inspiration. He was an aspiring rock musician and I wanted to support and encourage him in his passion. When I went looking for lessons in the Twin Cities I couldn’t find the right thing for him. He had had guitar lessons but he wanted to perform. And he didn’t want to do it in the church basement – which is where his piano recitals had been when he was 7 years old. I checked into some programs on the East Coast and West Coast and liked what I saw at the School of Rock Music. Unfortunately it seems to take companies on the coasts a while to add locations in the Midwest. I figured if I waited for them to come to the Twin Cities my son would be grown and gone by then. So I bought the franchise rights for Minnesota, found amazingly talented musicians who wanted to teach and mentor kids and opened up my first school in St. Paul in September 2006 and then Eden Prairie in March 2008.
Q: What can your students (and Parents) expect to learn and experience from attending the School of Rock Music, it’s classes and camps?
A: Of course they’ll learn to become amazing musicians on whichever instrument they select but our program goes well beyond that. We teach kids to play in a band. That means they are learning teamwork, leadership, responsibility and accountability. We teach the kids to entertain people. I tell the kids that if people just want to hear great music they’ll listen to their iPod. People go to live concerts to be entertained. This skill set then translates to their academic life by giving them the confidence to stand in front of their class and give a speech. I frequently hear from parents and students that a teacher at their academic school is amazed at the poise and self confidence of a School of Rock student as compared with their classmates. We teach them how to market themselves. This may sound strange for kids but it’s a great skill set for them to learn. Whether they choose to be a professional musician or pursue any other career, they will have to sell themselves in job interviews, asking for a raise or a promotion or booking their own band’s gig. So we expect the kids to market their own concerts. And it is common for our concerts to draw 500-600 people. The icing on the cake is that great friendships are formed at School of Rock Music. Not only among the students but among the families. We have movie nights and open jams and other fun activities at the school which the kids love because it gives them a chance to just hang out with their friends from the school. And we also hear of families and parents getting together outside of school activities as well. We have a great community of families.
Q: What type of response are you getting from kids, parents and your communities?
A: This is the most rewarding part of it for me. We have kids who come to us who are very shy and within a season or two they own the stage. We have kids who join School of Rock who feel awkward at their own school and discover a whole bunch of kids just like them here. We have parents who tell us they never believed their kids’ grades would improve like they have or their self esteem and self confidence would be what it becomes. And they all attribute it to the School of Rock. I have letters from parents who literally say “School of Rock changed my son’s/daughter’s life.” It’s funny because some parent s are a little nervous at first. Most of our teachers have tattoos and piercings and colored hair. And parents wonder if that’s the kind of environment they want their 10 year old in. Then the teacher talks with the child about their own childhood and connections are made. Our teachers are supportive and encouraging and they challenge the kids. And the kid love them. The parents see the positive influence these teachers have on their kids and they quickly see beyond tats and piercings.
Q:What type of concerts or events do you provide for participating kids?
A: Our kids start in a program called Rock 101 which includes individual lessons and group rehearsals. When they graduate from 101 they continue with private lessons and group rehearsals but they add the performance aspect of our program to their curriculum. Each season our students perform two live concerts at real rock venues in town. We’ve played The Rock, Trocaderos, Minnesota Music Café, Bunkers, O’Garas, Bogarts and I’m sure I’m probably forgetting some. We play all kinds of rock from Beatles to Zeppelin, AC/DC and GNR. We play punk and grunge. We play it all.
Q: To that end, you have a new and exciting Woodstock Re-rocked concert celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the original Woodstock festival coming up August 15th at the Minnehaha Bandshell in Minneapolis. Please tell us more about it.
A: This is really gonna be cool. Woodstock was called “One of the 50 Moments that changed the History of Rock & Roll” by Rolling Stone Magazine. We want to honor the musicians and the event itself. What better way to do that than a FREE outdoor concert, playing the music of Woodstock? And though I don’t think Rolling Stone will call it a moment that changes rock & roll history, I do think it’s cool that 40 Schools of Rock across the country are all going to a Tribute to Woodstock concert on August 15.
Q: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share about the School of Rock Music with those reading this interview?
We have a couple more programs for our more advanced musicians. Students must audition to participate in the more advanced programs. We have a show band that performs much more frequently; an average of a couple times a month. And we have an All Star band. This is comprised of School of Rock students from across the U.S. They audition with one of three Tour Music Directors in the country, and, if selected, they go on tour in the summer. This year we had four local students selected to participate and they performed in Austin and Dallas TX, Oklahoma City OK, Kansas City and St. Louis MO, St. Paul MN, Chicago IL, Detroit MI, Cleveland OH and Milwaukee WI. VH1 just completed filming something about our All Star program. I’m not sure when it’ll be on but I’m sure we’ll post it on the website when we know. You can check it out at www.schoolofrock.com.
If you love rock music, be sure to join us in Minnehaha Park for “Woodstock Re-Rocked” on August 15 at noon. (For more information visit: www.woodstockrerocked.com) And if you have a young rocker between 8 – 18 years old we’d love to show you around one of our two schools. Give us a call at 952-934-ROCK (7625) and we’ll hook you up with a tour.
The School of Rock’s year round program includes individual lessons, group rehearsals and live concert performances in real rock venues. The school also offers summer camps and audition opportunities in advanced programs such as performance touring with the network of 50+ Paul Green School of Rock Music locations nationally. Several of Stacey’s past students are currently working musicians. For more information please call 952-ROCK.