By Anna Lothson
Oak Park will be strumming and fretting its hour upon the stage this weekend. Oh, and smashing.
That's because the School of Rock Oak Park, operated by resident Amy Renzulli, will host its grand opening event on May 11 at its headquarters, 219 Lake St., from 1-4 p.m.
The event is designed to keep feet moving, as it offers a chance for guests to meet instructors, take a tour, take a trial lesson and listen to entertainment by four bands, including the Chicago School of Rock Show Team. A ceremonial guitar-smashing will kick off the festivities.
School of Rock is a performance-based music education that aims to inspire people to embrace the world of rock, both on stage and in life. Music programs are designed to create a supportive environment for music students of all skill levels.
In addition to individual private music instruction on guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards and/or drums, students also learn how to jam with their peers in a weekly practice session. The team dynamic is used to create an environment where kids can thrive at their own level.
Renzulli, whose kids were part of the Chicago School of Rock, saw the benefits the programs offered and decided the concept would be perfect for her hometown. In a previous interview with Wednesday Journal, she said she was inspired by seeing kids of various backgrounds working together to put on an all-kids rock concert.
"The magic of the program is not just about the music lesson. You could do that anywhere," Renzulli said. "The real power and the real transformational aspects [come from] having kids play together."
Two of the musical directors at the school are Ian Wilson and Oak Park resident Jennifer Malone, who has worked at the Chicago School of Rock for six years. She said the school gives students a sense of direction, sparks creativity and provides structure in finding an identity for kids.
One goal of the team within the first year will be to offer scholarship opportunities for kids who have a passion for music and wouldn't be able to attend the school otherwise.
Oak Park's School of Rock will have rehearsal rooms in front for base, guitar, drums, piano and keyboard, and vocals; the back will have a student lounge and a rehearsal studio that resembles a warehouse with its old brick and timber wood aesthetics.
Oak Park's school will offer various levels of classes and top students will have the chance to partake in an annual nationwide audition process to join the All Star Program. Students will also have an array of occasions to play at local recording studios, festivals and to arrange their own gigs.
To learn more about School of Rock Oak Park, visit oakpark.schoolofrock.com.