School of Rock builds valuable life skills among young musicians


Practice makes professional.

Leading up to several shows in January, School of Rock Evanston is teaching musical skills, confidence and teamwork to any young musician interested in performance art.

While still teaching the basics of music, School of Rock brings a unique addition to the learning process for their students: the act of performing. The school features two programs, one for newer and more inexperienced musicians, known as the Garage Rock program, and one for those who have been with the school for a longer time, called the Performance Program.

“We teach music to our students the way that native speakers learn English, we focus less on the classical way of teaching music, and instead allow the kids to work with one another to learn the material,” says Maggie Weber, the general manager of School of Rock Evanston. “The programs are open to anyone interested, even those who have never touched an instrument.”

According to Weber, this approach to musical instruction builds a deeper understanding of the material among students, as it pushes musicians to learn how to improvise in the case of a blunder by their fellow band member.

“In the act of performing, the kids are forced to think on their feet a lot, because if one member messes up, the show won’t stop, they simply must improvise to fix the situation,” adds Weber. “Being able to do that really helps their confidence, which is what we hope to see in all of our students.”

Weber adds that along with building confidence, performing with their peers allows students to practice the valuable skill of goal setting in order to prepare for a show. Kayan Waikar, sophomore and five year member of School of Rock, says that doing this not only helps his playing, but his work ethic.

“When learning the songs in order to perform, opposed to learning them for enjoyment, a certain aspect of pressure is present, I’ve found that it pushes me to learn the songs the best that I can, in the quickest time that I can,” says Waikar. “The added difficulty of live performance has definitely made me a better guitarist, in addition to teaching me more about performance art. In order for the audience to enjoy themselves, the band on stage must enjoy themselves, something that requires everyone (members of the band) to work together to accomplish.”

Since its opening in Evanston in 2010, the School of Rock has taught young Evanston musicians not only how to rock, but how to set goals, be confident and work together. To display these skills, the Performance Program will perform shows throughout the month of January at The Wild Hare (Chicago), 27 Live (Evanston) and Durty Nellie’s (Palatine).