Has your kid been toiling away at his music lessons, but is looking for something more? WorkPlay RockSchool, scheduled to begin registration in December, may have the answer. The organization, headed by Ellis Hopkins, will offer private weekly lessons and master group classes, building up to live performances at the venue. The winter semester is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 and will run through April 30, with classes offered by a number of professional musicians.
Birmingham magazine: Why did you decide to launch RockSchool now?
Ellis Hopkins: I used to play music for a living, and then I had my three children. That had to be my focus. Now that they’re getting on their ways with their journeys, I’m freer to do music full time.
… (With most lessons) the kids will go home and they play a little music here and there, but they’re never grouped together and have a chance to be in a band and perform. The way (RockSchool) works, your kids get lessons every week and then they rehearse every week.
In a four-month semester, they get to perform live at the WorkPlay Theater. Their parents and all their friends can come and see them. There ain’t nothing better than music in your life, in my opinion. That’s the whole concept, to bring people together that otherwise would’ve never met. Play songs that they can play, teaching them something that’s simple, and teaching them musicianship and respect for other musicians, how the gear works and what it’s like to be a musician, and get them excited about it.
BHAM: Who’s teaching?
EH: We’ve got a bunch of musicians and we’ve involved in the schools too, to try and get students that need to intern from UAB. (We’re) just making it a big city-involved type school, involve the colleges and as many kids as we can to participate and get their skills up to par to perform.
We’ll have different levels and won’t pressure anyone to feel like they have to perform that concert in four months. It may take them two semesters to be ready to perform. We’re going to have a live room they can jam in.
We also have an adult school planned. It’s going to evolve about the same time. That’s guys like myself that might have raised their family, they’ve jammed at home all the time and don’t have time to find friends.
BHAM: It sounds like you’ve got a lot of great things in store!
EH: When we have stars come to town, through their management company, I’m going to try to have them to come over to the school and talk to the kids. Rock stars today aren’t crazy like they used to be in the ’70s. A lot of them have good hearts.
There are all kinds of great things I see coming together for it. If we just start slow and keep on the right path and keep our focus on grouping these kids and having them perform and having their parents come out and see them perform at WorkPlay, I think it’s the start of something great for Birmingham.
Visit workplay.com to learn more about, and register for, WorkPlay RockSchool. Students can take lessons on keyboard, bass, guitar, drums and vocals, as well as stage mechanics.