History of the School of Rock
It all began in Philadelphia, where Paul Green was teaching guitar at home and at local music stores to put himself through college. In doing so, he also realized the most practical and purposeful application of learning rock guitar was being ignored in traditional music education - playing in rock's inherent surroundings. "The best way to learn chords and scales," he notes, "is to practice onstage." To this end, he organized weekly jam sessions at his rehearsal space, which he dubbed Rock School. The progress of the students was startling. When his friend Dylan McConnell, now the National Art Director and Philadelphia School Music Director, asked the kids to play an art opening in late 1998, Green jumped at the chance to show off their skills. Billed that night as "The Paul Green School of Rock Music," they were the hit of the evening and their reputation suddenly began to grow. The local press started noticing: Paul Green had a unique ability to give "The Gift of Rock" to his students. In April 2000, Green ran up his credit cards to take out a lease at 1320 Race Street in Philadelphia. It wasn't the prettiest spot but it certainly had the right character - a true rock 'n' roll spirit. Hiring rock musicians from local bands as teachers, the School of Rock was now officially in business.
Two years later, with registration pushing the 100-student mark, Green realized the best way to maintain a low student-to-teacher ratio and high learning curve was by opening like-minded School of Rock branches. Parents were already eager to promote and invest in branches in the Philadelphia suburbs. They had been urging him to do it for months. So he opened his first new branch in Downingtown, PA and instantly proved that a Paul Green School of Rock could be a great success without Paul Green as a regular teacher.
Expansion had formally begun. More School of Rock branches opened in the counties surrounding Philadelphia and eventually, into Southern New Jersey and Delaware. Another parent convinced Green that expansion was needed in other cities. That parent, Dr. Joseph Roberts, was a dentist who made his pitch to Green during an emergency office visit in 2004. While Roberts was filling Green's dental needs, he also agreed to fill the financial needs to open schools outside of Philadelphia. Roberts became Chairman of the Board of the Paul Green School of Rock Music, LLC, and together with Green they oversaw, in order, branch openings in San Francisco, New York, Cherry Hill, Salt Lake City, Austin, and Sandy, UT.
At the end of 2005, the School of Rock hired radio industry veteran Matt Ross to solidify the management team and fine-tune the strategic plan for the future. By the spring of 2006, with the opening of the Los Angeles branch, he was named Chief Executive Officer. Ross has held executive positions with Clear Channel Communications, Emmis Broadcasting, and CBS Radio, and has been widely recognized as one of the most accomplished leaders in the media business. In fact, Ross was responsible for leading some of the most significant radio industry turnarounds in the country, including New York's Classic Rock Station Q104.
From the start, Green's success always has been based on identifying with his students. The chords and scales they learn are the same as those taught in any school or university music program. But instead of Bach or John Philip Sousa, the kids are playing a style to which they can honestly relate. Green focuses on Classic Rock because of its continuing influence on the modern scene. The songs of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and their contemporaries form a core curriculum, while progressive rockers like Zappa and King Crimson constitute an advanced course of study. The exams are the concerts themselves and the grades are nothing less than the audiences' reactions. And for any musician, from novice to star, that's the standard that matters most.
It's an approach that's proven very effective, indeed, with Green now cultivating a talented, national student body whose best and brightest members comprise the popular School of Rock All-Stars. An international touring group signed to the prestigious Monterey Peninsula Artists Booking Agency (the Black Crowes, Aerosmith, and Dave Matthews), the School of Rock All-Stars play over 60 dates a year at theaters, festivals and top showcase clubs. And frequently, through the Guest Professor series, the School of Rock All-Stars are fronted by major rock figures like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Peter Frampton. The School of Rock All-Stars represent the ultimate educational opportunity, by giving the kids a true taste of the lives of working musicians, and providing a window into the professionalism and dedication to craft required to make it in the music industry.
"The great ones always have been able to play," says Green with firm conviction. "And all the original great ones went to their own schools of rock." And through Green's vision and commitment to enriching young lives, the School of Rock is ensuring there will continue to be great ones enriching the world at large for many years to come.