Paul Green’s School of Rock, which features instruction and music training from kids from ages 7-18, has evolved from its early stages in the ‘late 90s to a 49-school national educational movement.
The School of Rock, which was also featured in a 2003 hit movie starring Jack Black that’s now on DVD, has helped launch the careers of such major contemporary players as drummer Eric Slick (Project/Object), his sister and bassist Julie (Adrian Belew) and bandleader Mike Keneally (Steve Vai) .
Since 2003 Green has also gathered some of his finest students for yearly tours, giving these aspiring players an opportunity to perform in front of what Green describes as “both big crowds and sometimes almost no one.” This tear they’re making their first Southeast tour of the United States, and performing for the first time in Nashville Wednesday at the Millennium Maxwell House.
“There are many basic but important things that the kids get from these tours,” Green said. “For one, they learn how to sleep on a bus, which is a special skill in itself. They learn about performing and discipline, the ritual of touring and nightly performance, and an idea of what life is like for the professional musician.”
This year’s tour, which began July 17 in Florida, includes stops in Miami, Atlanta, Asheville and Charlotte. The students will also perform pre-game concerts for the Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves.
Green got the idea for both the School of Rock and the tours shortly after completing college in the ‘90s.
“I was a guitar teacher and one day I got some of my kids together and just had them start jamming. There was immediate excitement and heightened interest. Later, when I had them prepare for a show, they got even more excited. Right there I saw something. The School of Rock became my way to get more kids to pick up an instrument and get into music.”
The Paul Green School of Rock is based on Green’s original program of weekly, individualized instruction sessions that are augmented by rigorous group rehearsals. The notion of “God-given talent” is something Green rejects.
“The single most important attribute for any great musician is the willingness to practice. Certainly different people take things to different levels and there are different degrees of natural ability, but anyone who is willing to put in the practice time can pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. This whole thing about some people being talented and others not is something that I don’t accept.”
He’s equally outspoken about his curriculum, which is based on what he deems the classic rock canon.
“The students learn to play Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, Black Sabbath, the classic rock songs from the ‘60s through the ‘90s,” Green said.
Besides The School of Rock film, A&E still periodically airs the 2005 documentary Rock School, which had a hit debut that season at the Sundance Film Festival. A School of Rock sequel is in the works, and there are plans to expand the number of locations to 60 before the end of this year, with an amazing number of 400 planned in the future.
And, there’s also a new division within The Paul Green School of Rock Music Inc. — School of Rock Media. The division’s ambitious objectives include a series of instructional guides, a major recording project, a television series, an artist development wing and a second annual national music festival at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia co-produced with Live Nation.
“I have the best job in the world,” Green concluded. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
What: The Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars Music Education Spring Tour
When: 10 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Millennium Maxwell House, 2025 Rosa Parks
Cost: Free and open to the public