Don’t expect some cutesy kid’s band. This is the real deal. This is the School Of Rock and they’re coming to the Ferndale Public Library, this Saturday.
“If Rock n’ Roll is what you want,” offers musician and School Of Rock instructor Mike Latcha, “from 60’s rock to modern rock, country, soul, funk and blues, than you’d better be at this show.”
Latcha teaches a range of students, in age and skill level, at the Rochester chapter of the School Of Rock. Located at 415 Walnut Blvd, Rochester’s SOR is part of a nationwide franchise of the popular after-school education company. You might recall the Jack Black film from 2004? The original School Of Rock was started out of California around 2002-3 and has since spread across the country.
Latcha, along with Rochester’s music director Eddie Baranek, contacted the Ferndale Library last month, expressing an eagerness to showcase the talents of its House Band during FPL’s monthly local music program, Start Here Saturdays.
“The House Band is the cream-of-the-crop-students and we plan on giving you a great rock n’ roll show,” said Latcha, who came to SOR in the fall of 2010. One of the programs that Latcha and Baranek are currently teaching is the “Bowie & Queen show,” with up to 20 students rehearsing songs by David Bowie and Queen on a weekly basis for three months building up until they’re ready for real shows inside real rock n’ roll venues. These concerts, which, Latcha assures, are impressive enough to wow any rock fan from any generation or age group, can give these young musicians the experience of an authentic live stage performance.
“Almost every student in our show LOVES Bowie, now,” said Baranek with charmed wonder. “How cool is that? A nine-year-old singing ‘The Man Who Sold The World,’ by Bowie? That’s oh so sweet!”
Latcha said that the range of students, in age, background and personality, varies considerably; some are already getting into music and have been playing an instrument while others haven’t ever touched in instrument and might be more inclined toward sports, math, science or drawing. “Part of my job here,” said Baranek, “is letting a student who may not play sports that that is ok and that you can play drums, guitar, or sing and you’ll learn the same skill set as you would playing football.”
Ages span from 6-18, with each student starting at varying levels of talent. Guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and vocal skills are what’s emphasized each week, focusing their developing talents through special themed programs (that are often inspired by curated songs by iconic rock n’ roll groups like The Rolling Stones or Red Hot Chili Peppers).
Latcha said that the students in SOR are not only learning key elements of rock n’ roll, but also integral lessons and skills to help them mature into better, fully rounded individuals. Music is an overarching aspect, but through collaborative performances (often in front of live audiences at major events and festivals), the students can learn about responsibility, leadership, camaraderie, time management, working in groups, and taking pride in a community. “But it also builds their confidence,” said Latcha, “to just take ownership of something and really go for something. My goal isn’t to make them the next Beatles but to teach them something about themselves and the world.”
As Baranek puts it, “…these are life lessons, sung to the soundtrack of rock ‘n’ roll!”
SOR students are taught by professional musicians, many of whom have considerable resumes bullet-pointed by big gigs they themselves have played in the past with local major rock n’ roll groups. Latcha has performed regularly with several bands over the last 10 years, having studied music at Oakland University and freelancing as a music tutor before joining SOR. Baranek, meanwhile, is best known as the frontman of Detroit’s renowned garage/blues outfit The Sights. The collective knowledge and insight of SOR teaching staff transfers into these younger, diminutive rockers in a remarkable way, giving them the gusto to go toe-to-toe with any other local rock group around the region. Like Latcha said, expect the real deal!
Start Here Saturday is an after-hours local music concert hosted every first Saturday of the month at the Ferndale Public Library. Doors open at 6:30 PM with music beginning around 7PM – free and open to the public, featuring two local bands. On Saturday, The School Of Rock Rochester is joined by lo-fi/electro-folk singer/songwriter Champion Of Heat Resistance. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/826232174063868/
More on School Of Rock’s “Music Lessons Done Differently”
Baranek says that “…from the first day I began teaching, I was hooked.”
Latcha: “…When I finally became an instructor at The School of Rock and found out I was teaching with people I have been looking up to the past 6 years from the local Detroit scene, it was the icing on the cake…I was now teaching with musicians I had inspired to be like in the local Detroit area and it made me want to be my best!”
Latcha emphasized more of the virtues of School Of Rock with the concept concept of students in the respective programs having to work towards live performances. This gives them goals and helps them develop faster and stronger. Says Latcha, “I have seen some of the shyest kids in the world and then with in 2 seasons have confidence that just radiates off of them. ”
Baranek: “… It’s typical that a kid will come in the building with a guitar they got for Christmas and know nothing about it– beyond their favorite guitar player has the same guitar. Then, in the next three months, that same kid will start learning songs by their favorite band and will be able to play those songs. Then, in six months, they might be able to play those songs on guitar and sing at the same time. That’s very rewarding!”
Latcha and the rest of the staff can also experience the reward of learning, that being toward a deeper understanding of music for themselves. “When you teach something you love and that you your are also currently trying to get better at it defiantly takes your own skills to another level.”
But what Latcha loves most is “…teaching what’s inside the music and seeing someone be so determined that they rise to the occasion and blow everyone away.” It all comes down to building the confidence of young musicians, be they teens, tweens or younger.
“At the school,” says Baranek, “it’s not uncommon to hear students talking about one’s favorite Beatle album, the best era for Zappa, or how difficult but fun they are finding Queen’s material.” And that’s why he loves his job – a kinship struck between he and his students that transcends age gaps. “That’s one part of why I love being there– they remind me of me when I was younger.”
But for Baranek, nothing beats that “light-bulb moment,” when a student is just starting out on the guitar and, steadily, after two months, it finally clicks.
That makes the Library, a safe and fun place for promoting a life long love of learning, the perfect place for The School Of Rock House Band to perform!
Baranek: “By learning other instruments, a student gains perspective. They gain a broader understanding of where the other people on the song are coming from. They also become well-rounded musicians. These are life lessons, sung to the soundtrack of rock ‘n’ roll!”
START HERE SATURDAYS Doors open at 6:30 PM with music beginning around 7PM – The School Of Rock Rochester -WITH- Champion Of Heat Resistance. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/826232174063868/
School of Rock, Rochester: http://rochester.schoolofrock.com/about
Start Here Saturday: http://www.ferndalepubliclibrary.org/index.php/movies-music