School of Rock in Virginia Beach
No one can roll through Virginia Beach’s new School of Rock without noticing a vivid red wall emblazoned with the words “Be Amazing.” This backdrop to the school’s student lounge area embodies what this place is all about. Because, according to Owner and General Manager Eric Lonning, getting music lessons here means much more than learning how to play a killer guitar solo (though that’s pretty likely, too).
“Music is a big connector that makes you feel good,” says Lonning. “Study music, and your world opens up.”
Lonning says the School of Rock mantra is that the stage is the ultimate teacher, and performing live instills a crucial life skill—confidence—even if music doesn’t turn into a career.
“I have parents that say, ‘Oh, my child is so shy,’ and they are totally surprised because they end up coming out on stage like Mick Jagger.”
But whether or not they have the moves like Jagger, School of Rock, a franchise with more than 140 locations worldwide, aims to offer a more motivational type of music education to all students. Instruction typically begins with Rock 101, which combines individual lessons in guitar, bass, drums, voice and keyboards with opportunities to play with fellow kids during band rehearsals. Once they learn the basics of technique and music theory along with experiencing the dynamic of playing in a group, next comes the performance program, which adds opportunities to play live on stage through School of Rock coordination with local venues.
After a few shows, they may even get the chance to audition for School of Rock AllStars, the best rockers from around the country who go out on a full-scale tour each summer.
“The kids love having fun and being in front of people,” says Lonning. “This is a place to come and be engaged.”
Bonding over music, forming friendships and learning how to work as a team are all School of Rock principles that Lonning stands by. In fact, they were enough to convince him to leave his cushy job as a marketing executive to follow a dream of working for himself and helping kids find connections through music.
A lifelong musician himself with extensive experience playing live gigs, the School of Rock brand proved to be an ideal match for his passion. He says opening up in Virginia Beach, a few miles from his alma mater First Colonial High School, also made complete sense.
“Virginia Beach is the sort of place for something like this, with all of its live music,” says Lonning. “One of the School of Rock mottos is, ‘Be the music in your community. I am most excited about kids coming out of this place and being well-received.”
School of Rock Virginia Beach is located at 1552 Mill Dam Rd. It also offers adult lessons and a Little Wing program for preschoolers. Find out more on their Facebook page.