Come On, Feel The Noise: School Of Rock Opens In Huntington Beach
Drift back to those early days of music lessons, when 30 minutes of weekly instruction and little or lots of practice either evolved into joining school band, joining a band, or quitting and moving on to the next curiosity. Then snap back to the present, where the traditional music lesson model no longer flies here in Huntington Beach. School of Rock HB opened it doors on November 1, unleashing a magnetic force of revolutionary performance-based music philosophy that might even make a rockstar out of you.
Born in 1998 in Philadelphia, the acclaimed musical institution has opened more than 140 schools worldwide over the last 15-plus years. Located near the northeast tip of Main Street, SOR HB marks the second of its kind in Orange County. Its practical way of teaching is fun and simple: "We believe the best way to learn music is to play music," as is declared on the website.
Blending one-on-one instruction with group band rehearsals, SOR HB trains lifelong musicians and vocalists to become music addicts in a supportive yet challenging environment. Not only do students develop and maintain an interest in and a love for music, they're also responsible for specific songs and riffs. Classes and rehearsals accelerate the learning process, then culminate in one night of musical madness in the form of, not a recital, but a full-on concert at a local venue.
The crew behind SOR HB has rocked its fair share of venues. Partners Larry "Boody" Boodman, Joey "Joey" Ancona, and Jeff "Noonzy" Nunes have sang similar tunes for more than a decade. Boodman and Ancona met while studying and teaching at Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), respectively, and Boodman and Nunes rocked together in the L.A.-based indie rock band Fourwayfree. All three musicians—Boodman on drums, Ancona on bass and vocals, and Nunes on guitar—have played and still play professionally and have a combined 73-plus years of music experience. They're excited to be sharing their notes with HB, and Boodman's especially ecstatic to be giving back to his hometown.
"We put on shows to teach music, instead of teaching music to put on shows," says Boodman, emphasizing SOR HB's unique approach to music lessons. Adds Ancona, "No one ever took a guitar lesson and dreamed of sitting in a small room running scales. They dream of playing with a band and hitting the stage." That, according to all three men, is why SOR HB works.
Speaking to the SOR HB teaching philosophy, Nunes says, "I think all of that put together really develops a real love for the instruments and for music. Once you get to where you love it, nobody can stop you from playing."
And play we will in HB. OC Register perfectly describes the new location's exterior: "School of Rock Huntington Beach looks like a children's clubhouse secluded behind the Beach Eye Medical Group, which is apparently the look its founders were going for. The first sign is the lobby decorated with a neon skull and crossbones sign and a signed bust of Gene Simmons from Kiss." With rustic wall features like wood paneling and stone, the space screamed recording studio before SOR HB took it over. The group decided to roll with the vibe and build around it, covering the walls with band posters and other rock 'n' roll memorabilia. They even worked a little education into the design, filling a shadow box in the lobby with old school music formats, like 45s, LPs, reel-to-reel tape, and cassette tapes.
SOR HB schools in guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, and drums, and while it focuses on kids, the school welcomes music enthusiasts of any age. Programs include Rookies, which inspires first and second graders; Rock 101, which masters the basics; and Performance Program, designed for musicians who are ready to take their jams to the stage. Classic rock remains the core of SOR HB, but all genres are up for exploration. The music tastes of Boodman, Ancona, and Nunes run the gamet from jam bands to 80s rock to Elvis Costello, so the trio is open to suggestions from teachers and students.
On the heels of a largely successful opening day, SOR HB will host its first open house on Saturday, November 8, from 2 to 6 p.m. Free tours and class demos await, and details can be found here.
School is in session come November 10, and classes are filling up. A few more rockin' events are in the works for this year, and the school's first major rock show is slated around Valentine's Day. Eventually, more SOR's might pop up in Orange County.
"We're excited to be in HB," says Nunes. "Our goal is to not just be a place for kids to come and learn about music and get their music lessons, but we really want to be a hub, if you will, of music in the community." He adds, "We're not wasting any time."
School of Rock HB // 18584 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648 // 714-847-7788