School of Rock in concert with local kids’ success

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Owen Simmons and Evelyn Frazier (of Winters) jam with fellow bandmate Angel Santa Cruz (of Dixon) at the Green River Brewing & Taproom. (Courtesy photo)

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Although The School of Rock isn’t a Winters business, it’s been making a name for itself in town. From their concerts at Green River Brewing & Taproom to Tractor Parade appearances, this experiential education in music already enrolls plenty of Winters’ families and is looking for more to join the band.

While most hear the name “School of Rock” and think of the Jack Black movie, it’s actually a real place in Vacaville — with the original in Philadelphia called “The Paul Green School of Music.”

The owner of the Vacaville location, Leslie Silver, used to run a School of Rock in the Chicago suburbs. When she and her family moved to California in 2018, they searched for a place that mimicked the culture she’d created for her son to play the guitar. Finding none, Silver decided to open her own School of Rock — two weeks before the pandemic.

“Since we’ve only functioned in COVID, it makes working in this business challenging because you’re worried about the safety of the kids and adults who want to do this,” Silver said, explaining the challenges the school has had to overcome. “The hardest part is the grants. Because we weren’t open in 2019, I can’t show a loss which makes us ineligible for state and federal grants.”

Silver is excited to bring back what makes the school so fun and impactful. In a quote, Silver recalls, “The School of Rock teaches kids to rock on stage and in life.”

“We do things differently than a typical music education (program) because we’re performance based. The kids and adults will practice and then be in a band,” Silver said explaining how being in a band teaches members accountability. “We do shows throughout the year. Once a student has gotten on stage to do a performance, that’s the juice and excitement you can’t duplicate. It’s a little scary, but they practice every week and get through it with their friends in the band.”

While this school is Vacaville-based, Silver wades into the talent pool of Winters. The families, of course, have played in integral role in the school’s impact on the town.

“The Tractor Parade wouldn’t have been what it was for us without our Winters families like the Simmons and Fraziers. We went to lunch one day and Sarah Simmons and Kate Frazier are the ones who put pen to paper and designed the float,” Silver lauded the school’s Winters connection. “The Neils at Green River have been great, too, in helping us raise money. It helps pay for all the concerts and road trips we go on.”

To Silver, her favorite part about running the school is not just the look on a student’s face when they perform for the first time, but seeing the look of their family and friends in attendance. Beyond that, the music serves as a means of expression, instilling confidence and making friends.

To learn more about music opportunities at the School of Rock, visit their website at schoolofrock.com, and search for the Vacaville location, and rock on.

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