Education

Youngsters make music at North Miami's new School of Rock

School of Rock opens in North Miami

School of Rock North Miami held its grand opening on Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony — and a traditional guitar smashing.
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School of Rock North Miami held its grand opening on Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony — and a traditional guitar smashing.

North Miami, rock ’n’ roll is here to stay.

School of Rock North Miami held its grand opening on Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony — and a traditional guitar smashing.

“Everyone is dedicated to a core principle: Music changing lives,” said Nancy Sullivan, who co-owns the North Miami franchise.

Sullivan said she decided to open the academy because of her experience with her son’s own musical education. Though music was pivotal to his development, he wanted someone to play with people other than just his private teacher.

Now her son, who goes by the name Ed Sullivan, will be joining the teaching staff at North Miami.

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Students, parents and community leaders celebrate the opening Saturday of School of Rock in North Miami. GABRIEL POBLETE For the Miami Herald

Children, and adults, participated in 15-minute trial lessons with the school’s teachers.

Staff gave tours of the building, walking guests through the school's two band rehearsal rooms, the Little Wing preschooler program room on the first floor, and eight private lesson rooms on the second.

The building’s décor stayed true to rock standards, with posters of classic rock albums. A few of the lesson rooms even had themes, such as The Beatles room with a poster of the Fab Four and art featuring the Union Jack.

A house band comprised of students from other Schools of Rock in the area performed songs from The Police, Black Sabbath and other rock royalty. Among those performing was 17-year-old Chris Marroquin, who has been with School of Rock for four years.

He picked up the bass guitar when he joined the school, not having had any previous experience. Chris eventually was accepted to Berklee School of Music in Boston. He said he was grateful that School of Rock helped him find an artistic outlet.

“It helped me find my passion,” he said. “I don’t think in my four years I’ve seen anyone who doesn’t want to be there.”

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Drum teacher Trisha Stout mentors a student Saturday at School of Rock in North Miami. GABRIEL POBLETE For the Miami Herald

Honduran artist Sofy Encanto joined the North Miami teaching staff because she was attracted to School of Rock’s performance-based teaching. A local artist with her band Elastic Bond, Encanto said performing is fundamental to learning music and to personal development.

“I see music as life tool,” she said. “I found that confidence in other aspects in my life through music.”

With over 200 schools around the globe and 11 in Florida, the School of Rock franchise has become a force in musical education.

Youngsters under age 5 can be in the Little Wing preschool program. Students through about age 18 can participate in programs such as Rock 101, where students who have decided on an instrument practice on an individual level with a teacher and then engage in a weekly group rehearsal.

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Little Wing preschoolers on Saturday at the new School of Rock in North Miami. GABRIEL POBLETE For the Miami Herald

The highest level is the AllStars program, in which students selected from School of Rock auditions get to go on a summer tour of the country.

The School of Rock also offers Grad School, a program for adults that includes lessons and band rehearsals.

Chris Veliz began taking drumming lessons at School of Rock when he was 13. The school gave him his first job, and now he’s the general manager of the Miami location.

Describing his younger self as a shy kid, Veliz said the school gave him confidence during his teenage years and provided a safe place.

“The School of Rock way is beautiful,” he said. “The school changes people.”

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Guitar teacher Michael Stefanick mentors students Saturday at School of Rock in North Miami. GABRIEL POBLETE For the Miami Herald

School of Rock programs

  • Little Wing program is $100 a month for weekly 1-hour group sessions focusing on rhythm and note changes. The program for 3-to-5-year-olds also has a gig bag sold separately for $25, which includes a t-shirt, maracas, rhythm sticks and a hand drum.

  • The Performance and Rock 101 programs include 45-minute 1-on-1 sessions and hour-and-a-half group rehearsals. These programs are for children 18 and younger and cost $300.

  • Grad School is the adult program includes weekly 45-minute 1-on-1 lessons and 2 hours of group sessions a week. The cost is $299.

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