Future rock stars apply here
School of Rock in Shorewood picks up where Jack Black movie left off
Shorewood — Do you rock?
Because Rock Marasco — yes, his first name really is Rock — thinks you rock, and he wants you to prove it.
In 2006 the Whitefish Bay native sent his two children to music lessons at a place called School of Rock in Highwood, Ill. The method was simple there.
Learn to rock. Learn to play. Two inseparable halves of the whole, the methods allowed his kids to find their rocker persona as they learned the fundamentals of music performance.
"I would go to their concerts and just be amazed at what they did," Marasco says.
Six years later, the retired healthcare executive is bringing that feeling back to his old neighborhood. Last weekend marked the grand opening of School of Rock Shorewood, owned by none other than Rock Marasco.
"This is my roots," Marasco says. "It's a great location. There's a huge rock and roll community, not only in the North Shore but on the East Side."
The new school, located in the basement of the former Gilda's Club building on Oakland across from Sendik's, is tailored to showcase the talent of its pupils. One-on-one lesson rooms ring the outside of a larger central room which ends in an elevated stage, behind which SCHOOL OF ROCK is emblazoned on the wall in a mural of fiery reds and whites and blacks.
The instructors are equally colorful.
Take Tom Riddle — or, as he jokes, "Lord Voldemort in the flesh" — for instance, the tall, mohawked, tattooed, bearded vocal instructor with a quick smile and laid back demeanor.
Riddle toured as a teenager and still performs today. As a teacher he tries to cultivate the same self-assurance he feels when he takes the stage.
"Once the music clicks, they come to light," Riddle says. "That confidence goes on through their whole life. It did for me."
Or "Blackie Bishop" of the Black Saints, a dark haired, eye-liner wearing, silk scarf toting guitar instructor who looks like he stepped straight off an Aerosmith album cover and "speaks jam" with his students.
"That's how music starts, right there," he says. "(Jamming) is like a language."
Or Leah Kowalewski, a demure vocal instructor who pegs her stage presence somewhere between Zooey Deschanel and Grace Potter.
A longtime singer who got her start in a church choir and is majoring in education, she found the school of rock to be a perfect blend of her interests.
They all, under Marasco's leadership, strive to bring students a little closer to that pivotal moment, when the lights flare up and the crowd roars.
"We inspire kids and adults to rock on stage and in life," Marasco says. "I mean, who doesn't want to be a rock star?"
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