Danielle practices her guitar technique

School of Rock

As experienced by: Danielle Meadows, age 16
By Danielle Meadows and her aunt, Janet Thomas

What I experienced: Within two weeks at the Dallas School of Rock, I experienced so many things. I got the chance to work with a variety of musically inclined, kind, interesting, brilliant, and witty teachers, and I met a group of kids who I could finally play music with. I felt close to everyone at the School of Rock, and although it may sound like a cliché, it seemed as though we had become a big family by the time camp ended.
A young drummer readies her kit

Rehearsing our songs was a difficult task at times, but was extremely fun, and all of the hard work definitely paid off at the concert. I finally overcame my fear of singing in front of a crowd, which is something I had wanted to do for a while — it definitely made me proud of myself. I greatly improved on guitar, bass, and drums during the camp, and I learned how to write songs in a more organized and creative manner — something any musician should be able to do. It certainly opened my eyes to what being in a real band is like. Each day of camp was a new adventure, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The coolest parts were: interacting with new, talented people, and seeing our set come together as a whole was awesome. Seeing our talent grow as a band and progressing on our songs was a very cool thing, as was writing and recording our original song. And, of course, the performing was cool.

What I learned (and won’t soon forget!): How to play a variety of songs not only on the guitar, but also on the bass and drums. I discovered new bands to listen to that were suggested to me. I learned a bunch about music theory, which I wasn’t necessarily interested in at first, but I soon became intrigued by it. I finally understood music theory because I was taught about it in a completely logical and simple way.

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I discovered new chords and how to use different techniques on the guitar in order to enhance my sound. I learned how a song comes together and the process of recording a song. I was taught techniques to help me with my songwriting, and after this camp I had a far more organized way of writing music/lyrics than I had before. Most importantly, though, I learned how to work collectively with a group of strangers that soon transformed into friends.

Why I would recommend this to other kids: I would recommend School of Rock because it really opens you up to what being in a real rock band is like. You learn how to improve your musical skills and also learn to share ideas in a constructive and creative way — while having endless amounts of fun. At the end of camp, you get to show off how much you have
improved within two weeks, which gives you a huge sense of accomplishment.

Adult perspective: I could see Danielle’s confidence grow each day during School of Rock’s two-week camp. When it came time for the live performance — at a real venue in front of dozens of people — we were so excited and nervous for her as she took her turn on bass, lead guitar, and, finally, lead vocals. Danielle looked like a natural, and blasted out some great vocals, proving to herself that she could do it. Her main teacher, Ryan, is a professional musician (formerly lead guitarist for Polyphonic Spree, sharing tours with the likes of David Bowie and Interpol, as well as television appearances including MTV Music Awards and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno). The entire staff of the Dallas School of Rock was professional, but laid back in a way that really connects with the kids. General manager Wendy Murphy made every student — and doting parents, aunts, and uncles — feel at ease.

Details: The Dallas School of Rock two-week camp is $995, although there are often early-bird discounts. A variety of programs are available, including year-round lessons for students ages 4 to 100, Kinderockin, Rock 101, Grad School for adults, and Band Coaching. School of Rock All Stars, some of the best of the best students, actually go on tour. There are 70 schools throughout the U.S. and Mexico, with franchise opportunities for more. dallas.schoolofrock.com; schoolofrock.com