No, the School of Rock doesn't have Jack Black teaching tweens how to shred on their axe, but the newly-opened Vancouver music school does actually share a lot in common with the final scene of the 2003 film.
In group spaces that look like recording studios, kids gather to play songs they've just learned from classic and modern rock stars. In private lesson rooms, children, teens, and even adults get lessons on bass, keys, vocals, drums, and, of course, guitar. There's even a room dedicated to teaching pre-schoolers the basics of music.
Aside from its rock-and-roll feel, the school also educates students differently than most other music education programs say co-owners and neighbours Michael Granek and Al MacInnes.
"We don't do the scales, we don't do all that stuff, we're a song-based music school," says MacInnes. "We learn the songs first and we teach them the concepts and the method within the songs, we get everyone playing right away, playing rock songs, getting them playing up on stage."
Sgt. Pepper's not-so-lonely Band
For the students playing and performing together is like the flag for Switzerland — a big plus.
"I really enjoy playing with other people, it's a whole different experience to play with a band and a group of people as opposed to playing alone," says Charlee Granek, 15 (and Michael Granek's daughter). "You get to complete the songs and I think it's a really fun experience."
Getting that full band experience and playing a song so it sounds like it does on the radio is something private lessons (which Charlee took for years) can't offer.
"A lot of songs, even just a song with two guitars — so like 'Where is my Mind' by the Pixies is a good example — where there's two guitars; I can't play that on my own," Charlee adds. "It's really fun to be able to play with other people so I can hear the song come together rather than just one little part on my own."
For other students, it's a chance to try something new. Madison Yong, 12, started singing years ago, but mostly musical theatre material.
"Rock is very new to me," she says, even though she's been singing since she was three.
That said, her favourite song to sing with the group is "All the Small Things" by Blink 182.
"It was kinda the only song that I really knew and my mom and dad knew, so we all really loved it," she says.
Wesley Granek, 7 (and also one of Granek's kids) is having fun on the drums.
"It's fun because you can use more of your energy for doing stuff," he says. "I like to play the Seven Nation Army."
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, but am going to try this
The school isn't just for kids, adults are welcome too.
"We've got a good adult program going on," says Granek. "It's people who've always wanted to do it, or haven't done it since high school and they just want to have some fun."
For Alyssa Gibbs, 43, the chance to take singing lessons in a setting like the School of Rock has become a big confidence boost.
"I'm at the point right now where I don't need to prove anything to anybody and I want to be able to sing," she says. "I've always wanted to be able to perform and be someone that can inspire other people."
Along with improving her singing, she says there's also a strong sense of camaraderie she's found learning with a group in a band setting.
"It makes my day coming here and being part of this," she says.
The Great Gig in the old Yuk Yuks
The school opened on Oct. 8, the first in B.C. The original opened in Philadelphia in 1996 and has spread worldwide (helped by the film's popularity). Granek and MacInnes decided to launch the local school after Granek found out about them during the pandemic while looking for something for his kids to do.
"Every day it gets busier and busier. Right away there was a lot of excitement before we opened; just with the name School of Rock, there's very little explaining," says MacInnes.
The pair got a hold of the old Yuk Yuks location at 2837 Cambie St. (it still has some pieces, like rubber chick door handles and the ticket booth) and have turned it into a bastion for rock-and-roll.
"We wanted this to feel more like a venue/studio as opposed to an institution where you come in and be bored. We want people to come in and be inspired by the physical space," says MacInnes.
So far they have 70 students with more joining all the time; students are assessed and then placed in programs like Rock 101 or Performers, depending on their skill level.
"We've got the preschool program called Little Wing. Those are the little kids learning the very basics of music," says McInnes. "The next level up is called rookies where they get to try every single instrument. We've modified the instruments; we've got mini-guitars, mini-basses, mini-keyboards, and mini-drums."
Every four months they'll put on rock shows at real venues, as well, around the city (rooms at the school are also named after well-known Vancouver stages).
@vancouverisawesome Which one is better: School of Rock 🎸 or Camp Rock 🎶 📝 @Brendan Kergin 🎙 @Maria Diment #vancouverisawesome #vancouvernews #schoolofrock ♬ School Of Rock (From "School of Rock") - The Soundtrack Studio Stars