Rock Band Land isn't the only "School of Rock"-style gig in town for the Bay Area's baby rockers, but it might be the most original.
The self-described "creativity school" is run by founder Brian Gorman and co-director Marcus Stoesz who, when not rocking out with toddlers, perform with notable Bay Area bands Tartufi and The Music Wrong.
"It started out as a way for us to work and still have time to go on tour," Gorman told The Huffington Post. But Gorman found an unexpected calling in his project. "Now I schedule my tours around Rock Band Land."
If a recent short documentary by The Bold Italic and WEREHAUS is any indication, it's not hard to see why. Tiny students aged 4-8 (whom Gorman and Stoesz refer to not as kids, but "rockers") practice punk-rock snarls, brainstorm elaborate storyboards and play instruments with surprising focus. Sessions span several weeks and culminate in a rock concert extravaganza for family and friends, dubbed The Big Show.
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"The point is teaching kids to take chances and be different, to become their best creative selves," Gorman told HuffPost. "In the end, when they're up on that big stage with a sold-out crowd of families, they just feel like champions."
While the Bay Area offers plenty of music schools, Rock Band Land is more about fostering creative minds than producing disciplined musicians.
"We work with a much younger audience, so it's largely based in imagination and storytelling," said Stoesz. "We don't do covers and we're not running scales in here. Rock Band Land is about exploring creativity collaboratively."
"The rockers come up with all of the musical ideas and stories themselves, we just help guide them into song," explained Stoesz. The result is less Yo Gabba Gabba and more Coheed and Cambria.
Concerned parents needn't worry about leaving their kids in the hands of rock stars. Before launching the school, Gorman was a preschool teacher and Stoesz worked with adults with developmental disabilities. Rock Band Land is the culmination of passion and mission.
The experience has even made Gorman and Stoesz approach their own music-making differently.
"We have a set of rules at Rock Band Land," explained Gorman. The principle rule: no shutting down someone else's ideas, instead work on ways to improve it. "Now we use those rules in our own bands," he said.