Inside the Paul Green School of Rock-Evanston
The first Paul Green School of Rock began in Philadelphia in 1998, becoming a nationwide franchise. Last September, the performance-based rock music program opened doors in Evanston. The new location follows the Paul Green standard, accepting kids from ages 7-18 who just want to be rock stars. Students learn how to play songs from popular rock bands like Queen, the Beatle, and Pink Floyd. Evanston’s School of Rock is also expanding its class offerings to younger rockers. Loren Seeger, Evanston’s Paul Green School of Rock manager, opens up about the exciting prospects for this new branch, the program and why she loves rock.
How does the program work?
Students receive 45-minute private lessons on the instrument of their choice. Students also participate in weekly three-hour supervised rehearsals to prepare them for the main event, THE SHOW! Past shows have included tributes to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen and the Beatles.
What’s your school about?
Here we teach music theory and music composition, but we have a different approach to it. You can get the same elements from Bach, Beethoven, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix. It’s just having an open mind and looking outside the box. Who wouldn’t want their kids to play Beatles songs?
Evanston is a really diverse community and there are a lot of younger parents in the area, a lot more progressive parents that want their kids to have a say in what they want to do. Parents take into consideration what their kids want to play. I think it’s a great location because you have a nice mix from the city and the North Shore area. You have a lot of supportive parents.
What are your goals?
First and foremost we are a performance-based music program so it’s our goal to get our kids onstage and rocking. Here, we separated ourselves as we hold rehearsals and jam sessions to accompany the lessons. You don’t just come to School of Rock to take lessons but to create a band with other students there. It’s this added element–that’s what music’s all about. When our students come and practice, there’s an accountability to get better. There’s also the opportunity for people to help each other. In addition to that comes stage presence, reading music better and branching out and making up your own songs. It opens up a lot of doors.
Can you tell me about the concerts the kids put on? Where are some locations for your real rock venues?
They just finished a Beatles and Green Day showcase. They performed at Space in Evanston this past Sunday and on Friday they played the Alley in Highwood. We’re fortunate to have great partnerships with these venues. We have played at Flatlander’s, Metro, Kinetic Playground in Uptown, Mickey Finn’s, Austin’s. It’s great because it gives them the feeling what they’re doing is significant. They’re playing at real venues where they could go the next day and see a band they like. It adds legitimacy. Fog machines, lights, audience, everything. It does wonders for self-confidence, self-esteem and establishing yourself.
What can you tell me about the staff?
All of our instructors are acclaimed musicians. They’re people who have been in the business for awhile. They know the ins and outs of booking, stage setup, improving, these little ‘tricks of the trade’ that the instructors teach the kids. They’re things they’ve learned the hard way. The instructors have toured all over the world, been part of bands and had real world experience. Our music director played in Survivor. They’re walking music encyclopedias. If you want any classical rock information, they know.
Can you summarize your school?
It’s a performance music program that really strives to teach music for beginners or advanced. You can always become a better musician. In the process, when you know you’re getting better it builds self-confidence and character. To give kids a place to identify with.It’s really awesome because you have this culture living on through these kids. Saving rock ‘n’ roll one kid at a time but it’s really true. The music industry is totally changing and so it’s nice to have this kind of rock ‘n’ roll school teaching these things because they’re a lot of kids who don’t identify with Britney Spears or the Black Eyed Peas. It’s cool to like this stuff again. The Beatles, the Stones and Zeppelin don’t go out of style.
What does a rock star need?
I would say some attitude. That’s a broad statement but you need attitude to drive yourself to practice, rehearse and get on stage, to entertain. A good attitude is a must because your band might have six other people in it.
What’s coming up in the near future for you?
There’s the Tot Rock program (which started) Feb. 6, a six-week program. This past Friday and Saturday marked our first rehearsals here in Evanston for the show in the spring. We’re working with our venues to plan more stuff, and our kids also play in summer festivals. We have people who are very supportive and are looking for an alternative so I think this school will be successful.