Photos and article by Randy Jarosz
“Rock and Roll is here to stay,” was coined by the great Neil Young in his 1979 classic song “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue).” Young was on to something then and rock and roll schools like School of Rock are doing their part to keep the flame alive. Operating as the largest music school in the country, residing in 31 states and 8 countries, the school teaches students from pre school age through adulthood at any skill level.
The Pittsburgh region is home to two School of Rock locations. One in Wexford and a new location in Castle Shannon that opened in February of 2015. Both are owned by DJ Blackrick. The original School of Rock was started in Philadelphia by Paul Green, whose core principals are still being used today.
School of Rock uses a performance based approach which puts students in a group setting where they learn different instruments and vocals to eventually perform live concerts. It is similar to a school play or a dance recital where after practice and dedication, it all pays off in an end result. Currently the Castle Shannon students are gearing up for a concert, August 29th & 30th entitled “Arena Rock Show,” learning heavy hitters like AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Student’s might watch a music video to become acquainted with a song, like Kiss’s “I Love It Loud,” where they can get ideas for their own stage performances.
School of Rock also boasts a top notch staff with instructors that have many years of experience. Quinn Lukas has been working with students for the upcoming “Arena Rock Show,” a perfect fit with his experience touring with Twisted Sister, Winger and Cinderella. Nick Catanese, former rhythm guitarist for Black Label Society is artist in residence at the School of Rock Castle Shannon. “I love everything i have done in Black Label Society but I (also) love giving back to the kids and anyone else who wants to play in a band and I have 25 years of experience to pass along,” explains Catanese about his transitioning from a rockstar to a teacher.
Some of the students may think Van Halen is a member of Aerosmith, but who cares, these kids are learning life long skills of teamwork and commitment, all while being introduced to some of the greatest music of any generation and their parents are impressed too.
Seeing the improvement (in the students) and seeing the spark I had when I was learning (in them). It’s a great thing!” says Catanese.
Get a glimpse at the future of Pittsburgh music Saturday, August 29 at Jergel’s Rhythm Grill in Warrendale at 12pm and again on the 30th at Latitude 360 in Robinson at 1pm.