School of Rock opens on South Rock Road

04/27/2012 5:00 AM

04/28/2012 7:27 AM

Jason Ramsey has a 9-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter who play the piano.

But now that Ramsey is co-owner of School of Rock Wichita, his son wants to play drums and his daughter wants to sing and play guitar.

Ramsey, a Tennessee native, joined with his former boss, Scott Stark, a former Wichitan who operates salon and beauty store franchises in Nebraska, to open the performance-based music school at 1218 S. Rock Road, near Harry.

The school had a soft opening this week and will mark its grand opening from noon to 4 p.m. on May 5.

It offers beginning to advanced instruction on guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals for children as young as 7, although its primary market is kids in middle and high school. Its basic instruction program, Rock 101, includes a combination of private lessons and small group rehearsals, while its Performance program includes private lessons and three-hour group rehearsals that lead up to a live show. Students will perform at a local entertainment venue, performing music from groups such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd and AC/DC. Ramsey said enrollment prices start at $225 a month.

The school is a franchise of School of Rock LLC, based in Teaneck, N.J., which has more than 80 schools in 26 states and Mexico.

Ramsey said he isn’t a musician, nor is Stark.

“I like to call myself a guitar owner,” Ramsey said. “But we are both very passionate about music.”

Ramsey said he and Stark researched the franchise — including visiting schools in Dallas, Omaha, New Jersey and New York — for about five months before deciding to proceed.

He said it’s a unique business because the instruction centers on kids learning to play and sing to rock music, and the performance-based part of it seems to keep kids motivated in keeping up with their private lessons.

“That group rehearsal is really important,” Ramsey said. “If you put a kid in a group … and he doesn’t know how to play his part, there’s going to be a lot of musical accountability with the other kids. It really drives the kid to practice and commit.”

Ramsey said the school has signed up about 15 kids so far. It has five instructors and that number can grow with enrollment.

“Our goal enrollment is 200 kids to come to the school each week.”

It is located in a 6,000-square-foot building, of which it is using 3,500 square feet. That useable space includes five lesson rooms, two drum rooms and two rehearsal rooms. If business goes as planned, he said, they will finish out the remaining space for a third rehearsal room, three more lesson rooms and a recording studio.

“It’s such a different concept,” he said. “The performance is key to how the kids get better.

“We like to say that we don’t teach music to put on shows, we put on shows to teach music.”

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