The Paul Green School of Rock is a rock music program, first established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1998, by Paul Green. Branches of the school since have opened across the nation, in states including New York, Utah, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Washington, New Jersey and others. The program features seasonal shows, private lessons, group rehearsals, workshops, special guests and a growing national festival held each summer.
The program consists of year round, weekly lessons as well as rehearsals for seasonal shows. Instructors are encouraged to stress the fundamentals of both popular music
and music theory
in their teaching. There are many teachers per school, all specializing in one or more instruments. Instruments that are available to be learned by students are electric guitar
, bass guitar
, and vocals
although students are encouraged to play others on their own terms. Students also learn songs from popular artists; songs that are eventually played at themed live shows held throughout the year. There are occasional workshops featuring accomplished musicians, and include discussions about past experiences, songwriting, live performance and fame in general. To be admitted, students generally must be between the ages of 7 and 18. No musical training or experience is necessary to attend the school.
The main purpose of the school is to get the kids onto "real rock stages, for real rock shows".
The mantra for the audiences of the shows is " Don't come to watch kids play music. Come to watch kids play music well". Students of the program sign up for three shows every year. They are given approximately 2 to 5 choices of different shows to be in per "season" (depending on the size of the branch). Although there are some shows that are harder to play, no matter what the age or skill level, students can sign up for any show (although approval by the show's director is occasionally required). These shows are themed either by band, genre or time period and usually consists of about 20 to 25 songs chosen by the show's director (usually one of the teachers at the school). Three hour rehearsals are held every week in preparation. The shows are played at local clubs twice, usually on Friday and Saturday nights; however, some of the schools do have their own venue for the performances. Tickets are usually $12 and the students are obligated to help sell 10 of them to family and friends.
Shows done in the past include Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Beatles, Metallica, The Allman Brothers Band, King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix, Devo, Van Halen, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Funk and Reggae, Radiohead, Rocky Horror VS. Hedwig, AC/DC, Best of the 80s/90s, Punk rock, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Who's Tommy, Iron Maiden VS. Judas Priest, Frank Zappa, Old School Blues, The Doors, Guitar Gods, Yes, Progressive Rock, and many more.
Every season, two of the best songs in each show from regionally located schools are played in a "Best of the Season Scholarship Fundraising" show, which is often held at larger well known venues in the city. This event is used to showcase the best musicians, songs and performances in a season in a great rock venue with a great rock audience.
The School of Rock All-Stars is a group of the best students from the entirety of the program, all across the country, handpicked from schools in the program through auditions with Paul Green. They go on tour to play such venues as BB Kings in Times Square
, The Knitting Factory
in LA and NYC, The Roxy and Crash Mansion in LA, Stubbs in Austin, Hard Rock Cafes, House of Blues, and many of the biggest festivals in the country such as Lollapalooza
, Austin City Limits
, along with many others. They often tour and play with famous musicians from rock's past and present, such as The Butthole Surfers
, Les Paul
, Perry Farrell
, Jon Anderson
, Peter Frampton
, Eddie Vedder
, Alice Cooper
, Adrian Belew
, Napoleon Murphy Brock
, Stewart Copeland
, John Wetton
, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter
, Ike Willis
, and Ann Wilson
. Tryouts are held once a year, usually in September. The audition requirements include one Led Zeppelin song with a backing band, and one solo song of their choice. The All-Stars consist of four nationally touring groups. On the East Coast are the Alpha All-Stars, and the Omega All-Stars. There are also a West Coast and Central US All Stars. They are considered by many to be the best touring group of young musicians in the country. All four groups travel and have separate tours.
The film: Rock School
is a documentary about the School of Rock. The documentary exhibits the school through the eyes of its founder, Paul Green. A New York Magazine film critic said "Paul Green is letting his students in on a secret of life that goes beyond school, even stuff that looks easy is hard to do well"
. The film displays him showing off his wide variety of teaching tactics and also how the school affects the lives of the students that attend. Paul Green is seen several times jumping up and down, screaming at kids, and kicking students off stage, all in order to teach them, a controversial tactic that so far, seems to work. As Ken Tucker the NPR Rock critic says it "I would hand out DVDs of Rock School to everyone in the country with a teaching degree in America and dare them to match this level of commitment."
The Annual School of Rock Festival
In June 2007, the Paul Green School of Rock Music unveiled its first School of Rock festival. The two day event at the Jersey Shore in Asbury Park, New Jersey
, attracted almost 10,000 people and served as the quintessential example of the School's initial hopes: music education for young musicians through live performances. The festival consisted of 400 kids from School of Rock branches across the nation on stages side by side with headlining acts such as Ween
, Bad Brains
, the Benevento/Russo Duo
and New Jersey's own, the Bouncing Souls
. Special events included a lecture from Jello Biafra
of Dead Kennedys
fame and a shred
contest sponsored by PRS Guitars
The 2008 festival was held over the course of three days from June 27th to June 29th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The entire festival included themed shows from Schools as far west as California as well as the now-independent bands of former students. The All-Stars performed before the headlining acts on each day. The first day was held at the Electric Factory with performances by Andrew W.K. and the Butthole Surfers. The Festival Pier at Penn's Landing hosted the final two days with the Hold Steady and Devo on Saturday and Goldfinger, Less Than Jake and the Dropkick Murphys on Sunday. There was also a Shred Contest sponsored by Gibson Guitars.