Rock and Roll After School Opens in Phoenixville
Now that summer has just begun, many kids are eager to be as far away from school as possible, while parents are left to wonder how their kids are going to stay safe, out of trouble and active for three whole months (and when I say active, I don’t mean actively maneuvering your fingers across a TV remote or video game controller). Well parents, worry no more! There is such a place for your children where the only requirement is a little bit of musical ambition and a lot of imagination. I’m talking about the Rock & Roll after School program, located in the Franklin Commons in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
The Franklin Commons is a 225,000 square foot facility that once was the site of an old manufacturing mill. Today this newly renovated facility houses several businesses, education institutions, recreational facilities, and even has their own conference room, banquet hall and a bistro! If you were to take a walk around the outside corridors you would find yourself staring at some beautiful art pieces standing in all their glory. The best part about these pieces of art is that they were once piles of junk sitting in and around the old manufacturing mill. This sort of gives way to the old saying “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” because let me tell you, this art is definitely not anything close to junk. The Rock & Roll after school program is just one of many new tenants located within Franklin Commons. And trust me; this place is anything but common.
The Rock and Roll after school program takes traditional music lessons with instilling values of hard work and fuses that with a creative spin of teaching teamwork all the while allowing the students the freedom and fun of building their very own rock band. Even though these lessons are offered one on one, the afterschool program encourages students to come socialize and practice with other students. At this after school program children ages 8-18 are given the opportunity to learn from an array of instruments from very talented instructors.
Guitar lessons are offered by the following instructors; John Lilley (John played with U2, Peter Gabriel, and the Hooters), Michael O’Brien (Michael is former bass guitarist for Jealousy Curve, and also toured with All-American Rejects, and Rooney the Academy is), and Trevor Gordon Hall (Trevor is mainly a solo artist preferring is acoustic guitar but is able to teach electric lead along with workshops on composition and song writing.)
Bass guitar will be taught by Michael Radcliffe who is best known for his part in Robert Hazard & the Heroes. Michael has also performed and recorded with many big name groups such as Bo Diddley and Chubby Checker and even A Flock of Seagulls.
Drums are being taught by Rich Fogg who has been playing drums for over 20 years. He has performed on ABC and CBS morning shows and has opened for big name acts such as Robert Randolph, Velvet Revolver, and Hoobastank.
The Keys and Voice lessons will be taught by Melissa Kuskeloff Davignon. Melissa is a graduate of West Chester University with a B.S. in music Education with a concentration in Vocal and Piano music. She has experience teaching at Pottsgrove Elementary School, and the neighboring charter school, Renaissance Academy where she designed the music curriculum.
And yes here at the Rock and Roll afterschool you can even learn the fine art of DJing and how to work the turntables. DJ’ing will be taught by Erica Baran “The Baraness Von So Def” and Larry D. Fowler Jr “DJ Mr. Cisum.” Both of these turntable enthusiasts bring their own styles to the table and are a giant asset to this great team of instructors that Erin and Michael were able to gather.
I was lucky enough to be offered a tour of the Rock and Roll after School program by President; Erin Riley and Music Director; Michael O’Brien. Even though the electric was out for the two hour slot, which was the same as my tour, I was able to see exactly how much work has gone into making this program a reality. As you can see from the pictures they have a beautiful stage (where the students will be putting on their concerts) armed with an array of professional musical instruments donated by their many sponsors, with a giant mural which was done by Kirk Dupuis, that just drips creativity and imagination. There were nice sized instruction rooms for each and every instrument along with a “Ssshhhh” room where students are given the opportunity to sit, relax and do their homework. Also there is a large commons area where students can just hang out and unwind featuring a foosball and air hockey table, along with a rockin’ pinball machine. After the tour we went and sat down at the Bistro for a small interview which you can find here.
As you can see the Rock and Roll After School is a new, one of a kind program that will become a staple in the Phoenixville community. This School of Rock not only teaches the students how to play and create their own music but also instills skills and values that the children can use to help better themselves as overall individuals. Erin stated “who has more of a creative brain capable of using the giant imagination other than children.” This place is all about fostering creativity and allowing children to produce their own original work. Erin and Michael both made sure to reiterate the fact that this program is all about the kids, all about creativity, and all about the imagination. The only bad thing about this program is the fact that it wasn’t around when I was growing up.
Visit the Rock And Roll After School Website Here.