Patrick Redd guides the young participants of School of Rock through questions about music and life like a maestro conducting a symphony.
Redd, general manager and music director at School of Rock, 1121 N.E. Rice Rd. in Lee’s Summit, ties learning a new craft into lessons of everyday life.
Redd says he starting playing guitar at the age of 5, inspired by the Gene Simmons’ KISS solo record. His first guitar was a tennis racquet. His second guitar was made out of cardboard, using yarn for the guitar strap, and colored with Crayola markers. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, but played professionally throughout Northwest Missouri with the band Furley, and worked in the radio industry at KY-102 (Kansas City), 95.3 WAOR (South Bend, IN), and PYX 106 (Albany, NY).
In 2004, he opened Funky Munky Music in Shawnee, KS, but sold the business in 2012.
“We’re going to be the best band ever and everybody is going to be super cool with everybody,” Redd says to a group of five young aspiring rockers ages 7 to 12 during a rehearsal session Jan. 18. An older group of students will join Redd and his fellow instructors later for a jam session. The answer is in response to a concern from one student about getting along with others in settings outside of School of Rock. “That’s the way School of Rocks rolls. We’ve got none of that around here. School of Rock is not about that. School of Rock is about being cool with everybody, so we’ve got this.”
Enrolling students since the beginning of the year, School of Rock will celebrate its grand opening with a party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25. The party will feature a performance by the School of Rock House Band, an open jam session for children ages 5 to 18 and a free gift to every child that joins the jam.
A ribbon cutting ceremony sponsored by the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce will be at 4 p.m. Jan. 24 and includes a live performance from School of Rock bands Minor Rewind and Stop Motion. In true rock and roll fashion, Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads is scheduled to ‘smash’ a guitar during the Chamber-backed ribbon cutting ceremony.
School of Rock offers courses in the fundamentals of playing an instrument for beginners, a performance program with weekly private lessons and group rehearsals, opportunities to audition and be selected to join the school’s advanced band as well as a ‘grad school’ option for adults.
Groups that have already formed a band are offered coaching lessons at School of Rock and a camp is conducted each summer.
School of Rock was formed in 1998 with the philosophy that children learn faster and gain more confidence when there are rewards for their achievements. At School of Rock, Redd says, those rewards steam from motivation to do well and positive peer pressure.
“Because (one student) is new, we’re going to learn a little bit about (the student),” Redd continues as the group steadily prepares for rehearsal. “We’ll start with you guys so that (the new student) can learn a little bit about you guys and we’re going to test what you remember about each other. Just a little bit, OK? So, what’s his name?”
Like clockwork, the students deliver answer after answer about what they remember about each other, and each student shares why music is important to them.
“When I start playing the drums, it’s like I’m putting out energy,” one student says.
The impromptu life-learning lessons precede the jam session, but once the students enter rehearsal space, they proceed to their instrument of choice.
“We’ve got some more talking stuff to do, but we also need to rock and roll,” Redd says. “So let’s rock and roll a little bit and then we’re going to come back and talk about a band name. It’s going to be fun. We might not decide on a band name today, but we’ll make a list and talk about which ones you like the best.”
In between takes, 9-year-old vocalist Daniel Bryan says his experience at School of Rock has been “awesome.”
“We’ve been learning a whole bunch of songs,” Bryan says before he adds how he became a student at School of Rock? “My mom knew I loved to sing, so we were looking on the Internet to see who did vocals. So I picked someone and that place was the School of Rock.”