|Class is in session
Royal Oak facility shows young and old alike
By Jeremy Carroll
ROYAL OAK — As a trio of local girls — dubbed Stuk N Zero — belted out several modern pop and rock songs by Avril Lavigne and Pink, the current bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins hung out in the wings bobbing her head.
It’s all in a weekend at The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music.
“I’m just a dude from a small town in Ohio, and I’m constantly in awe of the situations I find myself in,” said the owner and executive producer of the business, Jason Gittinger.
Earlier this year, the 31-year-old, who now lives in Warren, swung the doors open to the facility in Royal Oak that attempts to give students a full emergence into music business and ?playing in bands.
As part of the Access to the Stars program, Ginger Reyes, the bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins, and Kris Pooley, who is traveling with the band as a keyboardist and has worked as the musical director for Gwen Stefani, came to speak to students on Dec. 20.
“They were so good,” said Reyes, after the trio of girls played three songs for her and Pooley. “They reminded me of how I got started. I wish I had a place like this when I was growing up.”
Reyes spoke on how she went from being in an all-girls pop-punk band to going through the four-month audition process to be accepted in the Smashing Pumpkins, one of the most popular bands from the 1990s alternative era.
Nicole Amine of Troy said she was a little nervous to play in front of Reyes, but said it was great experience.
“It was really cool to play for a professional, for someone who really does this for a living,” said the 14-year-old lead singer and guitar player of Stuk N Zero.
She said the group has really enjoyed going through the program at The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music.
“It’s a lot of different playing with a band,” she said. “It makes learning a lot easier.”
Gittinger, who plays drums for the popular Mega 80s, said students, young or old, can take private lessons, or “band” can be the focal point, with a concert at the conclusion of the schooling. The facility has two rehearsal spaces, recording space and seven private teaching rooms.
Each student must audition to be accepted into the school, but talent is not a key factor, he said.
“It’s not really a matter of talent, it’s a matter of mindset,” Gittinger said. “Because if the motivation is there, the talent will come.”
Gittinger said he likes to bring in people he’s gotten to know in the business, so the kids can see and hear from professional musicians. Gittinger went to college with Pooley, who recently married Reyes.
“That is something those kids are going to remember for the rest of their lives,” he said of their appearing at the school.
To learn more about the programs at the school, visit them online at www.detroitschoolofrockandpop.com, or visit them live and in person at 1109 S. Washington in Royal Oak.
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (586) 279-1110.