A few years ago a friend of mine who'd always sent her child off to ride horses every summer informed me that her 8-year-old horse nut was now a full-fledged teenager. The guitar and leather jacket were winning out over the horses. Rather than fight her teen, my friend channeled the summer time sloth rebellion into a different sort of camp. Rock Camp. It was, of course, a hit.

What Kids Do at School of Rock

Instead of moping around the house, her teen was learning guitar, using state-of-the-art equipment and connecting with other teens of similar interest. While it isn't launching into a full-time career now, her teen knows her way around a studio, knows her basics, has even been on tour, and was able to play a convincing solo in a school play. Best of all, it gave her confidence in her abilities and to learn on her feet not to be shy.

The camps take place in one- or two-week sessions for children aged 9-18. It seems to work especially well for the tween years. (What 16- to 18-year-old would not be too cool for any kind of camp?) It's a day camp, so you get junior home every day and can quiz him or her (if you dare) on what was learned that day.

Skill Building and Confidence Boosting

How does School of Rock differ from, say, the music store where you bought your first flute and five lessons? The program concentrates on a steady dose of performing in front of others. The constant 'doing' of performance rather than leading up to a performance through practice is a key element of their program. In a way, I can see how this really bodes well for today's attention-challenged students. They might not become guitar demigods like a Richard Thompson or someone of that caliber, but they will get down their three chords and the truth — which, by and large, is what most of them want anyhow.

While the franchise aspect of School of Rock kind of left me wincing (think back to the days of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain sporting the phrase "corporate magazines still suck" on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine), for the kids that would sooner die than leave the house to go into a forest or swim in a lake, this just might be THE alternative.

This summer, School of Rock is doing a nationwide tour of their best AllStar rockers, called "Rock the House" Proceeds will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities' programs.

The School of Rock website states there are 65 locations around the country, and has a locator for the one nearest you. Since they are franchises, I imagine some things differ from one place ot another. Let us know if your kids try it out, and tell us what you think!

Related Reading: