What makes a musician? Must you be paid or have a formal education, play multiple instruments or have a five-octave vocal range?
“A musician, to me, is someone who puts in the time and dedication to study music and has a solid understanding of their chosen instruments," said Holly Quirk, owner of the newly opened School of Rock Highlands Ranch. "I don't believe you have to play professionally to be considered a musician. Just someone who loves music and loves playing it whenever they can.”
“We want every kid to have a music education. There are so many studies that tout the benefits for academics, science, and math that open that part of the brain,” Holly says.
School of Rock Highlands Ranch opened in May, offering its patented curriculum and instruction method. Taking a cue from rock-n-roll, they’ve flipped the typical order of learning an instrument called the ‘Song First’ approach.
At SoR, students learn to play songs first, many by the end of the first week. In that process, they learn music fundamentals, like reading music, chords, even a little theory, and participate in small group instruction with other like-skilled students.
"Traditional music instruction is, take your lessons, learn the rudiments first, after a while you learn a song, and then maybe, eventually play with other musicians,” Holly says. “We take music education very seriously. We simply reverse engineer the method in which we teach it.”
Offering classes for ages 3 1/2 to adult, their hallmark music program includes a weekly private lesson in keys, guitar, drums, bass, or voice, and a group rehearsal.
Owners Holly and Andy Quirk met in California when they were teens, and became involved in the local music scene as young adults. Holly was working as a manager at a music school in Los Angeles when the couple decided they wanted something different. In 2013, they sold everything, packed a car, and moved to Denver to work at a School of Rock. After a stint at the Oak Park, Illinois, School of Rock, which grew to be the largest school in the nation, they returned to Colorado to open their own franchise.
All instructors at SoR are professional musicians. Among them include Music Director Dylan Pruiett, a graduate of Berklee College of Music, and Victoria Scovens, who played Eliza on an official Hamilton tour.
Despite the pedigree of their instructors, SoR understands each student comes to them with different plans; some want music to be a profession, some just a hobby. They hope students can experience the benefits of music alongside peers and friends.
This summer, one of the themes is British Invasion, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who, and Yardbirds.
So sing along. “Lend me your ears, and I'll sing you a song.” These students get “by with a little help from their friends.”
“We take music education very seriously. We simply reverse engineer the method in which we teach it.”
School of Rock Highlands Ranch
Pictured are students in School of Rock's Beatles Summer Camp.