Most adults have tried to make music – and even been successful – at some point in their lives. At least those with the desire for it. But to keep making music seems to be the biggest challenge, and that’s where The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music comes in.
“It’s my job to take an individual who has a need to play music and put them in a situation that enables them to do it,” said Jason Gittinger, who in 2008 founded the Royal Oak school with his wife Sherry. “Our goal is to sort of give people the tools to not have to stop making music – because it’s easy to start, but most people stop for one reason or another.”
The Detroit School of Rock and Pop provides private music lessons to people of all ages, as well as band and camp programs, and clubs for songwriting, studio recording and making blues music. The school also provides music for community events like Arts, Beats & Eats and the Royal Oak Kids’ Cruise, and goes on an annual tour with its students.
Two major factors differentiate the school from other music schools and lesson providers. The first is built into the school’s tagline, “stop practicing … start performing.” “It’s only through doing that we learn,” said Gittinger. If that “doing” stops after we finish a course or leave the school, the skill fades and eventually dies.
To that end, the School of Rock and Pop provides an avenue for all of its students to perform regularly. For example, students in the band programs play at area events, and those in the Summer Rocks camp go on tour and play in venues across the country. There’s even a Detroit School of Rock CD, featuring student bands, that will be released at Arts, Beats & Eats 2011.
The other major differentiating factor, said Gittinger, is in the school’s mission of passing musical skills onto the community. “We’ve structured our place to help other people more than ourselves,” Gittinger explained. That means the school doesn’t sell musical instruments, he said, but instead works to give people the skills and means “to continue making music for a lifetime.”
Gittinger is no stranger to the music scene. He grew up in a musical family and has played with many bands, including The Mega 80s, which creates a full-time drumming gig for him on Friday and Saturday nights. His drumming can also be heard on Chevy Cruze advertisements.
According to Gittinger, however, the gigs are nice but short-sighted. “I see all the way to the end of my life, whether I die today or 20 years from now,” he explained. If he can help people gain the skills to make music and keep making music, his life will be more worthwhile.
Gittinger also has a long-term vision for the growing School of Rock & Pop, which now employs about 12 people and interacts with a couple 100 people each week, whether in private lessons, band programs, summer camps or other initiatives.
“My vision is not one of franchising, because it’s really a personal pursuit,” Gittinger said. Instead, he sees the Royal Oak school as a “hub for people that care.” The 3,600-square-foot facility could one day become a university campus with more classes and programs to teach the masses, he said.
Right now, Gittinger is busy keeping up with the growing business, raising his two young daughters, playing gigs for his band and finding venues for the many bands and individuals that pass through the school in some capacity.
“Even though we have ‘rock’ and ‘pop’ in our name,” Gittinger said, “we really don’t put a filter on the types of music we teach.” So whether it’s jazz, Memphis soul, blues, heavy metal or mainstream pop you seek to play, The Detroit School of Rock and Pop has your number.
For more information, visit www.detroitschoolofrockandpop.com.
By Pamela A. Zinkosky