A Jam Session with School of Rock’s Musical Director

Music has always been a huge influence on pop culture and for the younger generation, social media has become a platform to express and share their talent with the world.

This is sparking the interest of more young people to learn how to sing and play instruments. We had our own Q&A session with the musical director at School of Rock in CocoWalk, where students ages 5 and up go to sharpen their music skills while having a ton of fun.

Jonathan Diaz has been part of School of Rock’s faculty for about two years and recently took on the role of musical director at its newest location in CocoWalk. A trained guitarist, he began to learn about music at his church and has been playing for the past 14 years.

1) What kind of music classes are kids taking this summer?

At School of Rock, we offer a variety of music classes all year around and this summer has been busy with many children wanting to take music lessons. Students can learn how to play instruments such as guitar, piano, bass and drums. Right now, guitar and drums are the instruments that more students are favoring. I’m also getting a lot of requests from the students to teach them how to play songs from the young artist Olivia Rodrigo, who is becoming very popular. The students who participated in our summer camp learned how to play two of her songs, “Good for You” and “Brutal.” At the end of the summer program, we hosted a special performance for all the parents to enjoy.

2) How do you think TikTok is influencing children’s interest in music right now?

Thanks to TikTok some students are finding music from the early 2000s that is growing in popularity on the social platform and are coming in asking to learn how to play it. it’s been very cool to see this new generation learning about the music that we were listening to 10 or 20 years ago. For example, “Castaways” from the children’s TV show “The Backyardigans” is a popular one and also more recently, the music from the film series “Twilight” has been blowing up on TikTok, so we are teaching them how to play “Supermassive Black Hole” by the band Muse, which is on the movie’s soundtrack. It’s really great to see how kids are getting exposed to music through TikTok and it is motivating them to learn how to play instruments.

3) How can parents help their children determine what instruments they should learn to play?  

Guitar is an easier instrument to learn at first, but it gets harder as you go, while drums is a bit harder to learn at the beginning, but when you learn the basic concepts, it becomes easier to play. The hardest instrument to learn how to play all around is piano because you have to learn all the chords and the music theory. Whether taking private lessons or group band classes, I always tell the students that slow and steady wins the race. If they follow this advice, they will learn how to play really well. It just takes a bit of time, but you have a lot of fun learning!

4) What are the services that School of Rock offers?

School of Rock offers private lessons to start off and those lessons are once a week for 45 minutes, 101 and 201 are the group band classes, and for younger children ages 5 to 7 we offer the Rookies program. In the group band classes, the children practice the songs that they are learning how to play in the private lessons. This allows them to play together and enjoy learning music as a group by sharing their talent. We select songs that have depth to them but are easier for the students to learn and are also popular. After about three months of classes, it’s amazing to see how they learn how to play the songs the way they were recorded.

5) What do you love the most about your role as musical director at School of Rock’s CocoWalk location?

The beauty of School of Rock is that the students are learning, playing music and practicing together, they encourage each other and give each other advice on how to improve their skills. In fact, we’ve had some students start their own bands after playing together and that is very exciting to see! Many of the students want to become rock stars and once they start learning how to play these songs, it’s great to see their reaction and sense of accomplishment when they finally learn how to play songs like “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones. They realize their potential and ability to play and that helps motivate them to reach the next level. I’ve been playing music for 14 years, but I’ve always found more satisfying and rewarding to teach others and help them achieve their goals.

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