School of Rock opens new building for Lubbock musicians looking for creativity, community
A team of educators in Lubbock has opened a new facility where they can develop life skills and a healthy community for the young, and the young at heart, through the power of music.
Amber Beadles, a former principal and science teacher, walked into what she thought was a clothing store years ago, before quickly realizing it was something much more.
“It was the coolest music concept that I'd seen,” she said. “Doesn't matter if you're brand new, you get plugged in, have instant friends, in addition to becoming a great musician.”
It was a School of Rock, a music education concept that first opened in Philadelphia in 1998, and has now expanded worldwide with locations in 15 different countries.
Beadles opened a School of Rock in Lubbock in 2012, sharing a building with a credit union office, while another bank sat across the street.
“We were kind of a bank sandwich and sometimes they would come out to their parking lot to watch,” Beadles said.
The relationship with the neighbors was better than you’d expect. But the school needed more space.
Lubbock’s school currently teaches more than 230 students of all ages. Their Little Wing program includes 4-year-olds. And their oldest student so far is 88.
“The adults are some of my favorites, because they'll come in here and typically haven't done anything for themselves in a while,” Beadles said. “They're a little hesitant, a little unsure. But within five minutes of being in that group, they're welcomed and settle down and have a ball every week.”
Down the new halls are practice rooms with amplifiers, drum kits and keyboards. The school offers instruction in guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, drums and singing.
Music Director Mark Morgan said at the start, there was some trial and error with equipment, but a test with the school can show what tech is really built to last.
“It's really a good testament to who's making the really good stuff: can it withstand being here?” Morgan said. “It's just getting used constantly every day.”
The school has offered a songwriting program before, and while most songs they learn are covers, Morgan said the music isn’t just rock and roll.
“We're doing an Eagles show, Pop Goes Punk,” Morgan said. “Vocal groups, so that's anything from the Supremes, Jackson Five to TLC.”
The music changes every few months, so students get a chance to hear and learn new styles they may have never known. Then, they play an end-of-season concert.
As the school’s main promotional tool is performances from their students, their music is everywhere. From First Friday Art Trails in downtown Lubbock, to playing for festivals like South by Southwest in Austin and Summer Fest at Lake Michigan.
With the negative connotations so often linked to parts of the music industry, Beadles makes it clear the priority of the instructors is on the students’ safety and creativity, and the health benefits it can bring.
“They sign a waiver that if they get into drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, they're not going to be here, we're not going to tolerate it,” Beadles said. “They can be fabulous musicians without taking that path.”
A band rehearsal room in the center opens up to a room of tables and chairs for students to get together outside of individual lessons or performances, highlighting how even though music is what brings them together, the benefits go even deeper.
As the school grows and gets older, a bond grows as well, with students who get better serving as mentors for the younger groups, and some who were once students now becoming old enough to instruct the next generation.
Beadles said it’s all part of the goal of fostering talented people of all ages in Lubbock.
“Obviously, a great, solid music foundation, but also developing that culture so that they have a sense of community and a safe place to be,” she said.
Summer camps will be taking place in June and July for a condensed version of their traditional seasons. Those interested in wanting to learn more can meet with the School of Rock staff and see their new facility at 6827 82nd St., or find more information on their website.
Disclosure: The School of Rock has been a financial supporter of Texas Tech Public Media, a nonprofit media organization that is funded in part by donations from members and corporate sponsors. Their support does not affect editorial decisions.