We Don’t Need no (Rock n Roll) Education. Of Course We Do!

guitar-713451_1280You have made a career out of rock n’ roll so to speak. You work for the Main Line School of Rock. What is your position there?
“I am the Music Director of the Main Line School of Rock, which is a performance based after school music program in Berwyn, PA.”

How long have you been doing it?
“I started at the Fort Washington School of Rock in 2007 when it opened and then we opened my school in February of 2009, so we just recently celebrated our sixth anniversary.”

Have you always been drawn to rock music?
“I’m actually drawn to all kinds of music, but rock and hard rock music have been constants in my life. I started listening to 45s when I was a kid, Roy Orbison, the Jackson 5, Elton John etc. but KISS Alive! was my first real album and that kind of changed everything for me.”

Why do you think it’s important for kids to get a musical education?
“Other than being the greatest hobby in the world, you mean? I may be biased, of course, but there is nothing better than being able to play an instrument for your friends and family. From an educational standpoint, we just posted an article from Time magazine’s web site on our Facebook page about the ten easiest ways to make your kid smarter and music lessons were number one. Studies have shown that kids who take music lessons can increase their IQs compared to non lesson taking children and they also exhibit learning advantages in the classroom. Studying an instrument also teaches discipline and goal setting, things that all students could use more of.”

What benefits do you think kids that take advantage of programs like this have?
“Other than the educational benefits that I previously discussed, the main thing that differentiates our program from other music programs is the performance component. The kids learn to work as a team toward the common goal of putting on a show, which ends up giving our students a similar experience to that of team sports. They also get the added benefit of boosting their self-confidence by being rock stars in a real rock show. We have a 2500 square foot venue with a real stage, real equipment and real lights. We don’t change, or simplify the songs and we never tell them that they can’t do something, or that a part is too hard. We help them with their parts and expect them to do their best and they almost always exceed our expectations. Once they realize that they can sing, or do a guitar solo in front of 200 plus people, doing a presentation in front of a class, or going on a job interview become much easier propositions.”

What do you think draws them to rock n roll music?
“This is a great question, because things are much different now than when I was a kid. We would buy a record, an LP, go home and listen to it while staring at the album jacket, reading every word. Music was much more important to people of my generation and we didn’t have nearly as many other demands on our recreational time. No video games, no computers, no social media… We only had three tv stations! The point is that music is not nearly as important to these kids as it was to us, which is why I have come to believe that what we are doing is so important. We use classic rock as our curriculum to give these kids a solid foundation in the history of rock music. There are over 150 school of rock locations worldwide with over 15,000 students, so I sincerely believe that we are going to have an impact on the future of music. Having said that, very few of these kids will go on to become professional musicians, because being a musician is not a profession, it’s really more of a lifestyle and most of these kids will not choose that lifestyle. That simply doesn’t matter though, because the lessons that they learn in our program will transcend all other aspects of their lives.”

heavy-metal-258672_1280What’s your favorite rock band of all time?
“That’s always been a very tough question for me, because I like so many different types of music. I also do this thing where if I really like something, I’ll listen to it everyday for a period of time, usually anywhere from a week to two weeks and then I might not listen to it again for years. I listened to Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking” for about six weeks straight. That was a biggie. Tool, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains got a lot of play. Emmylou Harris is one of my favorites. I was known as the Frank Zappa kid in high school. I’ve been through my Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker phases, you get the idea. If I really go back to the beginning, though, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath have had the biggest impact on me musically.”

This year’s batch of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are: 
The “5” Royales, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Lou Reed, Ringo Starr, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, and Bill Withers. What do you think of this year’s crop of inductees?
“I’m not a huge fan of the hall. The name “Hall of Fame” implies that there are some kind of quantifiable statistics that would make it obvious as to who should be included, like the sports halls of fame. Music is art and as such, it is incredibly subjective. You may love the Grateful Dead, for example and I have never been a fan. Who’s opinion is valid? Well, the answer is that everyone’s opinion is valid. To them. If I was starting a hall of fame, the Beatles would not be in my hall and I can assure you that I would be in a very small minority of people who would say that.
We have actually had our house band, the Main Line School of Rock Delta Squad, play at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland and it is a great museum and that’s what it should be called, the Rock and Roll Museum. So, I hate to be lame and not answer your question, but they should all be involved, because they have all played an important part in the history of rock music.”

There’s talk every year of who is missing from the hall. Are there any artists/bands that you think definitely deserve to be there but are not yet?
“Well, after my diatribe on the last question, I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask! Actually, that concert-609266_1280question kind of substantiates my point about the validity of calling it the hall of fame, though. What are the criteria? I don’t know and I’m not sure that anyone can articulate them. It’s just frustrating, because people are very passionate about music, which is fantastic, but if there is some obvious omission, then people get upset when this entity basically tells them that their passion is invalid. I still say that they should just call it a museum and everyone should just go and appreciate the amazing exhibits. It really is a wonderful museum. Forget all the other stuff.”

You can check out the Main Line School of Rock here – http://www.mainline.schoolofrock.com

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