Rock ’n' roll has found a new home in Dr. Phillips.
After years of success in Oviedo, the School of Rock has opened a new location on Conroy Windermere Road.
“We know what we’re doing, and we hope to get open and organized in our Orlando location,” said owner and general manager Wes Simmons. “It’s a great market in the southwest part of town.”
The School of Rock is a performance-based music school set up to teach students of all ages how to rock out in a band.
“Our approach to teaching is to combine a weekly private music lesson with weekly group rehearsals,” Simmons said. “Students get to use the lessons in a real rock band kind of setting. It’s a really fun way to learn.”
School of Rock utilizes classic music from bands such as AC/DC and Pink Floyd to teach basic music theory and knowledge. As students progress, they are placed in bands with their peers and perform gigs on stage in front of live audiences.
“There’s now a reason for these students to be committed to go home and practice, to put in the work to improve,” Simmons said. “There’s a show coming up, so they want to be ready. They don’t want to be that guy or girl who didn’t master their part.”
Some School of Rock graduates have enjoyed continued success, appearing on “American Idol,” “The Voice” and on Broadway. Others even have signed record deals.
The instruments that are taught at the School of Rock are drum set, guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and vocals. Typically drums and guitar are the most popular instruments with students, Simmons said, but at the new location, vocal instructions appears to be at the top of the list.
Simmons fell for the School of Rock concept as it provided students of all levels a skill and hobby they could turn to no matter the circumstances.
“Music is something you can always turn to,” he said. “It’s nice to know I am giving that gift to others.”
The new school had its grand opening on April 29 and has already enrolled more than 20 students in its program.
“It’s been great,” Simmons said. “We’re off to a great start, and we’re very excited about it.”
With eight private-lesson rooms and two group-rehearsal rooms, the school has the capacity to take on about 150 students, and those interesting in learning the art of rock ’n’ roll can start as early as 6 years old.
“It’s really a first-experience music approach,” Simmons said about teaching the 6- and 7-year-olds. “It’s kind of like an instrument petting zoo. We get to goof around and have fun. They can play a piano, sing in a mic, bang on a drum.”
And during lessons and group rehearsals, students learn more than just music.
“They learn about community, teamwork, responsibility, being accepting of different musical styles, personality traits - there’s so much more that goes on here,” Simmons said. “There’s nothing like playing in a live type of setting.”
Simmons has loved music his entire life and has worked as an amateur musician for years.
“I played a lot in college,” he said. “Then five or six years ago, I had a change in employment and was looking around for what I wanted to do next. The School of Rock allowed me to continue my passion.”
In addition to teaching the students himself, Simmons has five other music teachers on staff at the school.
“I’m really excited about the professionals we’ve got working for us,” he said. “They’re the real deal.”
Although the school is only a few weeks old, Simmons said he is excited to watch his new students develop into rockstars.
“You can’t really do what we do anywhere else,” he said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected]