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School Of Rock Makes Rock Stars Out Of Young People

Dylan Roche
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April 4, 2012
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Story By Dylan Roche
Photo By Brian Lancione

Brandon Barlett, music director and drum instructor of Annapolis School of Rock, knew the performance-based music education facility would be a benefit to the Severna Park area. Having worked at the Baltimore location of the franchise for four years, Barlett knew that School of Rock offered a unique opportunity for young people. “It’s a great experience and a lot of fun,” he said.

Being an Annapolis native, Barlett was familiar with the thriving local music scene; he knew that School of Rock would be just the business to help young people foster and grow their talent. In July 2011, the location in Arnold opened its doors to students, and Barlett’s belief proved true - the school has been staying busy since then.

School of Rock offers music lessons to students of all ages and skill levels, but what drew Barlett to its program was that it was performance-driven. Unlike other places that offer music lessons, the school does not focus on music retail, instrument sales or equipment; instead, its emphasis is on education and helping young people develop their skills. Along with General Manager Nick Borgeson, Barlett has made School of Rock a place where kids can have fun and young talent can thrive.

The staff at School of Rock is entirely composed of working musicians. In addition to Barlett, teachers include Meg Murray, Larry Byrne, Jordan Sokel, Evan Cooper, Ahren Buchheister, Derrin Brown, and Michael McHenry, many of whom may sound familiar to those who follow the local music scene, as they are actively performing at venues.

“The Annapolis area has a great music scene,” commented Barlett. “It’s one of the reasons we had to have something like this here.” He mentioned how any night Wednesday through Saturday, a person can go out and enjoy live performances at restaurants, lounges and music halls throughout Severna Park, Arnold and Annapolis. “There’s a ton of local talent who work here,” he said of School of Rock.

Because the teachers are all performers themselves, they are dedicated to making the music education facility a bigger part of the community, so that students have the chance to live up to their potential. The school has not been open for very long, but has so far made donations to school auctions and functions. School of Rock gives kids the chance to play music in an actual studio; the experience helps round kids out, preparing them to be musicians and even have a career in music.

So far, the school has witnessed an impressive rate of student retention. Most students return to further grow their talents and music education. “The kids are enjoying it,” said Barlett. “It’s great for the kids to have a social scene with others who share their passion. It’s a cool place to hang out.”

For more information on School of Rock, and to explore programs it offers, email Annapolis@schoolofrock.com.


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