Thursday, June 16, 2005

Rock School at the Troc - Part II

Hahahahaha - I'll let this blog entry speak for itself:

Nightvision (Philadelphia Weekly - June 15-21 edition)

Matt Rothstein, 18, Madi Diaz, 19, and Eric Slick, 18

by Emily Brochin

What do you do for a living?

MR: "I work at the School of Rock in Downingtown. I'm basically the bitch there."
MD: "I'm a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston."
ES: "I'm a drum teacher at the Paul Green School of Rock Music and a drummer for a band, Flamingo."

Describe what you're wearing.

MR: "I'm wearing my Urban Outfitters shirt-which I'm not proud of. And my Gap jeans. And bright green Nikes."
MD: "Jeans. Underwear. A black shirt and a scarf that I got from Rome. And feather earrings."
ES: "I'm wearing my dad's 1973 velvet blazer from a wedding or something, and new white shoes from somewhere on Second and Market. And $6 Walgreens sunglasses."

What are you up to tonight?

MR: "I'm going to be playing 'The Lemon Song' by Led Zeppelin."
MD: "I'm at the Troc watching my brother play Slayer."
ES: "Playing some Led Zeppelin songs. And a bad Queen song."
In case anyone doesn't know this already, Matt Rothstein, featured above with my son, is my daughter Julie's boyfriend and also in the movie -- he has much shorter hair there (well, so does Eric) and is the one who has the line "Paul says I suck -- I practice and practice and he still says I suck". Or something like that.

Interestingly enough, Emily, who wrote the above article and was kind enough to send me the link with the photo, also reviewed Rock School the movie in last week's edition of Philly Weekly and I'm pasting it below:

Kids Rock

There's no stopping the Paul Green juggernaut.

by Emily Brochin

Paul Green is on the brink. The documentary about his school of rock music, Rock School, is garnering critical acclaim. He's opened eight other branches in addition to his original one in Philadelphia. He even has his own T-shirts.

But today Green doesn't want to talk about the movie. Or the kids. He wants to talk about Werner Herzog, whom he worships.

"I used to have a class in the basement called Philosophy for Ungrateful Teenagers," he says on the phone from a radio studio where he's just done an interview. "We used to have movie night where I'd show more accessible movies-things I thought they should see. I tried to show them Fitzcarraldo. They didn't go for it. But they liked Reservoir Dogs a lot."

Fitzcarraldo is a fitting metaphor for Green's mission. In the film the protagonist tries to build an opera house deep in the Brazilian jungle by carrying a riverboat over a mountain.

Green has charged himself with an equally daunting task: to corral hundreds of kids and teach them the lost art of rock 'n' roll. Ultimately, Fitzcarraldo managed to build his opera. And Green managed to build his rock school.

The Paul Green School of Rock Music began in 1998 when its foun-der started orchestrating weekly jam sessions among his private music students.

After seven years Green has his kids' ensemble performances down to a science. Teachers pick a theme centered around a performer or genre (for example, Queen teaches harmony, and punk rock teaches kids stage presence) and assign kids pieces according to their abilities. For the most part, the musicians are pretty advanced-as was obvious at the school's scholarship fundraiser at the Trocadero last Friday.

The Troc was packed with kids, parents and various musical instruments, and it exuded a potent mixture of adrenaline and sexual tension. Everyone was dressed up-some sporting ties, others carefully Aqua-netted mohawks and lots of eye makeup.

The upstairs was commandeered by the parents. (It's not only where the bar is, but where you can get the best shots with a camcorder.)

When a group of tow-headed kids took the stage and began to play "You Shook Me All Night Long," it seemed a little ludicrous at first. But then the singer opened his mouth, and a miniature version of Brian Johnson emerged. And the lead guitarist ripped off his shirt and started spinning on the floor while shredding.

The crowd went wild.

"I just hope the kids really want great things for themselves," Green says. "I tell them to look at their parents and how many of them are miserable in their jobs. And I hope they lay the groundwork and find what they want to do and then work hard and don't give up and all that corny stuff."

Green's statement rings true. How many of the dads here-in loosened ties, surrounded by other parents getting tanked-would gladly trade places with their kids?

Critics charge that Green's pedagogy in Rock School is, well, unusual. If a kid isn't giving it his all, Green will drag it out of him-whether by shame, force or a combination of the two.

"What's worse: me yelling at them, or them getting up onstage and not knowing their songs?" Green says.

It's certainly not the kind of education President Bush advocates in No Child Left Behind, but it's yielded real results. The kids are engaged and passionate. They've shared stages with some of the biggest names in music. Graduates have gone on to attend music conservatories, or remained at the school to teach.

And somewhere between the swearing, the throwing things, the hugs and the actual teaching, Green provides an education that'll forever affect his students' lives.

Watching the students onstage, it's clear Paul Green has built a new army-with guitars, not guns-to defend the future of America.