REAL DETROIT WEEKLY
City Beat (April 23, 2008)
By Thomas Matich
Apr 22, 2008, 09:28
If any city’s fitting of a rock ‘n’ roll school, it’s Detroit (you know, that whole Motown and garage rock thing). I’ve always thought that one day I might like to be a teacher or one of those hip college professors who sleeps with his students and tells wacky stories at parties, but I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a better teaching gig than Jason Gittinger’s. For the past five years, Gittinger’s day job has been that of a member of the revered local retro band The Mega 80’s and setting up and programming lighting during the weekdays at the Magic Bag. A few weeks ago, Gittinger added a side hustle to his day when he opened the doors at The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music in downtown Royal Oak.
Gittinger has set up the DSRP as an impressive institute offering a more organic approach to music lessons than your average, humdrum, come-in-once-a-week-and-learn-these-basic-chords method. It’s about feeling the music inside you and running with it.
“My only care is not whether you’re good or bad, but how much you care, how much you are motivated or excited by music,” Gittinger says. “I can only help the guy who’s in the process of helping himself. Without that, I’m just a guy in the room and every week we limp through a lesson while I twiddle my thumbs.”
When I arrive to meet with Gittinger, I’m greeted by his baby girl who walks around with a bright smile and tinkers with keyboards and drums. Gittinger brings me into the production studio, a state of the art, can-do-everything with hardwood floors that Gittinger imported from the Michigan State Fairgrounds/Joe Dumars Field House basketball court. It was in the mid-afternoon, a time when I’m usually huddled in a cubicle staring at my computer, while Gittinger is a mere mile away teaching some kid how to bang the drums. “How many dudes are just sitting at a desk that are passionate about life outside of work, spending half their time walking around with paper in their hand?” Gittinger asks. “I’d rather spend my life being, doing, loving and making things happen. I’m just a 16-year-old drummer that’s 30 now, that’s trying to keep going. It’s very important for me to lead others down that path.”
As an experienced musician who knows the biz, Gittinger hopes to offer more than just a dry half-hour lesson with the DSRP. There’s an art gallery that houses local music-related work and aside from lessons on the basics, Gittinger offers recording studio time, rehearsal space, production courses and programs to help you get your band’s stuff together so you can actually play some shows. “I always wanted to have that community of people that give a crap … I realized that everyone’s sorta out for themselves,” Gittinger says. “I’m not sayin’ that it doesn’t exist, but everyone’s version of that has been virtual communities. That’s cool, but it doesn’t actually bring people together.”
In the hour or so I spent at the DSRP, I spent a majority of it banging on the drums. It was an incredible release of tension and almost spiritual to be doing that in the middle of the work day while talking music with Gittinger, who has one of the sweeter 9-to-5’s in town: teaching Detroiters how to rock out. | RDW