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Photo by Steve Ziegelmeyer

School of Rock Mason is celebrating its 5th Year Anniversary this month. It will hold a celebratory concert on Friday April 28 at 7:30pm at the 20th Century Theatre. The concert will feature current students, staff, and alumni playing hits from prior years’ shows as well as previewing some music from the school’s upcoming shows. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 day of the show. They are available from www.CincyTicket.com. Ticket proceeds will be donated to the Ovation Music Fund, which will earmark the money to provide scholarships to help low income children in the Greater Cincinnati area attend performance-based music programs.

“I am pleased with the way we have been accepted by and become part of the music community in Cincinnati,” said owner Tim Garry. “We have 17 musicians on our staff who are active members of the music community. Since we opened five years ago we have produced 58 different shows featuring our students, ranging from Aerosmith to Zeppelin. We have included the music of Wussy, Walk The Moon, The Ass Ponies, The Afghan Whigs, The Tigerlilies, Fairmount Girls, and various artists from King Records in our sets. And we have many current and former students who are key players in recently formed bands that include Freak Mythology, Sonarray, BACKDoor, Hot Zombie, and Blank State.”

“We especially appreciate the support of the venues in town that have opened their stages to our students. Northside Tavern was an early supporter, and over the years we have presented shows at the 20th Century Theatre, The Redmoor, The Southgate House Revival, Arnold’s, The Woodward Theater, The Venue, and Rick’s Tavern.”

School of Rock Mason held its Grand Opening on April 14, 2012. It served about 20 students during its first month of operation, and has grown to more than 220 students, which include kids aged 7-17 and adults. Students range in skill level from beginner to advanced.

“We are not a traditional music program focused on lessons only. While we do offer lessons on guitar, bass, drums, piano/keys, and voice, most of our students are also involved in our performance programs, which really are the focus of the school,” said Garry. “We offer three performance programs. Rock 101 is for younger kids just getting started. They come in weekly for a private lesson on their instrument and weekly for a group rehearsal with others in Rock 101 during which they work on real songs and begin developing band skills in addition to their instrument skills. They often open for the older kids when they put on their shows. The Performance Program is for kids who are capable of playing through songs and want to join others to perform live as a band. Typically, kids in this program range from 6th grade through high school, although we have had younger kids participate. These kids join one of the shows we put on each show season, and come in once a week for a private lesson on their instrument and once a week for a show rehearsal, during which the show comes together. They then perform the show twice over the course of a weekend after about three and a half months of rehearsal. The Adult Performance Program is run in a similar way.”

School of Rock Mason will present seven shows in May and June as part of its Spring Season. The children’s Performance Program will put on six shows:

  • Hair Metal on May 12 and 14
  • The Who on May 13 and 14
  • Four Songstresses: Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Laura Nyro, and Rickie Lee Jones on May 19 and 21
  • The Cream of Clapton on May 20 and 21
  • Panic! at the Disco and My Chemical Romance on May 26 and May 28
  • The Cars vs The Go-Go’s on May 27 and 28

The Adult Performance Program will present Music of the ‘90s on June 17.

Since its founding, the school has put on 58 different shows over the course of 15 show seasons, with each season lasting about four months – three and a half months of rehearsals followed by performances. “The show that I have done that is my favorite is Talking Heads Stop Making Sense,” said drummer Jake Nelson, who has been at the school since the second show season when he performed in the Led Zeppelin Show. “School of Rock has been a wonderful place for me. I joined just after we moved here from Wisconsin and met some wonderful kids who have the same passion for music that I have who have become great friends.”

Nelson is also a member of the school’s House Band, a select band made up of some of the best young musicians in the school. The band gigs out about twenty times a year, and has played at such events as Summerfest in Milwaukee, the MidPoint Music Festival, The PNC Summer Series on Fountain Square, and the Mason Heritage Festival. “My favorite gig we have done with House Band is playing at Night To Shine, a prom for those with special needs. We have done it for three years in a row, and it is just great to bring so much joy to everyone in attendance. 

Nelson has also reached the final round of auditions for the School of Rock National AllStar Team, and he will learn his fate May 1. School of Rock Mason is a franchise and one of 180 Schools of Rock around the world. The network supports a School of Rock National AllStar team that goes out on multi-city tours during the summer. Six School of Rock Mason students have made the AllStar team over the past several years, and they have played Lollapalooza and Gathering of the Vibes, two major national music festivals.

“I am a senior and will be moving on from School of Rock Mason,” says Nelson. “I just hope that the school will be there five years from now and continue to provide to others the great experience that I have had.” 

To learn more about School of Rock Mason, go to www.Mason.SchoolofRock.com.

Ovation Music Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity that facilitates music education scholarships for low income children at music schools across the USA. To learn more about the organization, go to www.ovationmusicfund.org.