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Kids Jam It Up At New School Of Rock In Ridgefield

Adam Cirillo (General Manager SoR Ridgefield), Mariola Galavis (Owner SoR Ridgefield), Tyler Bernhardt (Music Director SoR Ridgefield, Melody Easton (SoR corporate) during SoR Ridgefield opening event. Photo Credit: contributed
Rodrigo Galavis and Ben Teolis School of Rock New Canaan - Best of Season at Ridgefield Playhouse Photo Credit: contributed
School of Rock Allstars at Red Rocks, Colo. Photo Credit: contributed
Bo Leger performs at the School of Rock New Canaan at a seasonal performance Photo Credit: contributed
School of Rock New Canaan House Band during a Summer tour stop in Wildwood, N.J. Photo Credit: contributed

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Remember Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and all the other rock bands you grew up listening to? Students at the new School of Rock in Ridgefield are learning the lyrics and playing the songs from all these groups -- and developing quite an attachment to them.

Students who come to learn to play an instrument also get lessons in the classic bands whose music they play, School of Rock owner Mariola Galavis said.

"Our instructors give lessons on why each band is great," she said.

The bands range from the 1950s to the 2000s, Galavis said. "Instead of teaching students about current rock groups, the school takes one step back and teaches them who inspired the current rock groups.

"We go back to the root of inspiration. We teach the kids music that's proven to still be great and timeless to this day."

The new local school, located at 37 Danbury Road in Ridgefield, is part of the School of Rock, which has 150 locations around the world. Other Connecticut locations include Fairfield, New Canaan and Madison. New York locations include Bedford and Mamaroneck.

"Our school was the inspiration for the movie, 'School of Rock," Galavis said. "The movie is loosely based on the school."

It is a performance-based school open to students from age 7 to adults. Students learn guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards and drums. They take private lessons on their instruments and also attend a weekly group rehearsal.

Students also perform in live concerts, and on some occasions, several Schools of Rock perform together in festivals and other events.

There are no requirements at the school, which teaches from beginner to advanced levels.

Galavis, a New Canaan resident, also owns the New Canaan School of Rock.

Students are given parts of songs to play that match their level of ability, that will challenge them but can be achieved. "That way, everyone has a part. We assign the kids to groups based upon what we believe they need to play in order to be a better musician," she said.

The School of Rock opened a location in Ridgefield because the owners felt it would be a great match for them. "We know Ridgefield is a town that appreciates the arts," she said.

Many students are shy when they first come in and are afraid to make eye contact. "By the end of the season, they are on stage in front of audience of more than 100 people and can grab a microphone," Galavis said.

"We really foster the creativity and leadership skills and giving a voice to every kind of kid," she said. "We become like a real family and their confidence grows."

Fifteen-year-old Charlotte Hamilton has studied at the School of Rock in New Canaan since it opened in 2011. She plays the piano and sings.

"Our instructors pick the music they think will challenge us so we can grow as musicians and improve while still having a ton of fun while doing it," said Hamilton, of New Canaan.

"It's so much fun when you're playing with kids who are of different ages and know you are contributing together," she said.  "When it sounds awesome, you feel awesome."

Students travel around Connecticut to perform. "This summer, we went on tour for a week," she said. "We played with a School of Rock from Philadelphia and went to Wildwood and played along the pier on the boardwalk.

"It was just so awesome to have the experience of being a real live musician and to meet kids we've never met before but were able to connect through our love of music."

On Nov. 12 at 5 p.m., the Ridgefield School of Rock will hold its first Open Mic at the Lumberyard Pub, 2 Main St., Redding.

For more information on the Ridgefield School of Rock, click here or call  203-894-5698. For more information on The School of Rock, click here .

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