First of all, we would like to thank School of Rock Portland for joining Portland Notes to present a Local Youth Music Showcase this April 9. Along with McMenamins White Eagle Saloon, we are inviting 6 local youth bands to share their covers and original music with Portland, in hopes of expanding opportunities for all student based bands to play and see live music. School of Rock has, of course, always been a strong voice on behalf of young musicians – so naturally, we wanted to find out what motivates such an organization.
I think that this conversation with John Guffey from School of Rock might just explain everything…Guffey is the Director of Franchise Operations for the International music school program, which teaches kids to “rock on stage and in life.” His job consists of traveling from school to school, training managers and instructors how to make the best use of School of Rock’s proven teaching methods, how to nurture their students’ interest and skill in music, and how to best encourage parents to participate in their children’s music education. He’s a very busy man, but we managed to catch him in between his travels to ask him about his personal journey with music, School of Rock, and the students he’s taught and mentored.
Like most adults who spend any time at a School of Rock, I immediately said, “I wish there had been something like this when I was a child!” Imagine – a place where a child can sit down with an instructor and learn how to play songs they listen to at home, practice in the lesson and at home, and then come together with other students to play the songs as a group. Rehearsals every week, and then a real rock show performance at an actual music venue in their town – on stage rock star status, screaming fans and all! The best way to learn music is to play music, and the most fun way is to play it with other music fans. It’s a great way to learn about music, but also a rewarding way to learn cooperation, teamwork, encouragement, and accountability.
Providing an easily accessible way for students to study and create music opens their minds and hearts to more than just notes on a page. Music is an escape for some, a way to communicate, to find like-minded creative friends, and to express emotions that are sometimes difficult to put into words. School of Rock is a place where close, long-term friendships are formed over a common love of music. All of these sentiments are reflected in Guffey’s story. From the story of how he was introduced to music, to his career path with School of Rock, Guffey’s life is an example of how using music as communication and common ground has propelled his success and satisfaction.
Guffey is a strong supporter of local bands – he mentioned a few, and led us to several others. Ape Cave, Chronological Injustice, Saola, Dad Rock, New Social Outcasts, and Red Fox all have current or former School of Rock student band members. The April 9 lineup at McMenamins includes Jack Mortensen Music, Michael Hermes, 4 Day Moon, Black Sand, and Pedestrian Death Gang – along with the School of Rock House Band. There is so much talent among these bands. Finding places to play is a challenge – finding places to play where their underage friends can see them is nearly impossible. Thanks to McMenamins White Eagle Saloon for being willing to take a chance on April 9! And again, a giant thank you to the parents and Portland School of Rock for being huge supporters, and helping to actually form the featured bands through years of investment in their musical education!